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Thompson: 'I love the game and I love everything that comes with it'

Nate Thompson is hard at work in Southern California preparing for the 2019-20 campaign

by Matt Cudzinowski @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

MONTREAL - Nate Thompson is taking a one-stop shop approach to his workouts this summer.

The 12-year NHL veteran is training under the watchful eye of Dr. Chad Moreau - a renowned sports chiropractor and strength and conditioning coach - at Back to Function (BTF) in Lomita, CA, just a short drive from his offseason home in Hermosa Beach.

It's the first time Thompson has made BTF his training ground, and he couldn't be happier with his decision to work with Moreau and the rest of his staff. He is also being joined by former Los Angeles Kings teammates, Dustin Brown and Jake Muzzin.

"Everything is personalized to you and to how your body functions and what you need. It's just a smart way of working out," said Thompson, who signed a one-year contract with the Canadiens in late April. "Not only that, you train there for the day and you have everything you need. Right after you're done working out, you can walk down the hallway, hop on the table and get some treatment. That's kind of the beauty of it. It's really nice to have."

When the 34-year-old centerman sat down with Moreau to discuss his training goals, he made a point of stressing several key objectives heading into the 2019-20 campaign.

"One of the things I told him was that I wanted to do things that would help prevent injury. I also wanted to do things that helped me feel good over an 82-game schedule, and I want to be fast. That's the way the League is going right now, everybody's fast. I want to make sure that I'm quick and that I'm explosive. I'm working on all of that," revealed Thompson, who sits just three games shy of reaching the 700 games played mark for his career. "I'm trying to incorporate that with getting on the ice more, feeling good on the ice and working on some skills stuff. I know it sounds crazy, but I still think I can improve as a player and get better. I'm trying, like I do every year, to have a career season next year."

Working hard on a Friday! #hockey #nhl #ahl

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With that in mind, Thompson has also sought out the assistance of Hall-of-Famer and skills consultant, Adam Oates, and is lacing up his skates more frequently than he has in the past.

"I've been doing some skating on my own a couple of days a week, feeling pucks and shooting pucks. They're just things that you can never do enough of and it only helps. Not only does it help you get better, but it helps your confidence with the puck," explained Thompson. "If you do enough of it, repetition, you're definitely going to get better at it."

Embracing the workload

Training in California certainly has its benefits. 

"There are a lot of good things about it, but just the overall lifestyle is great. There are many different things going on. It's a mecca as far as places in the U.S. for training," said Thompson. "If you want to mix things up because you've been in the gym too much and you want to take a mental break, you can do beach workouts or sometimes a bunch of us will play beach volleyball on Saturdays. You can always get a good workout in." 

Sticking to the program drawn up by Moreau is key, though.

"Our days are all mapped out. We're in the gym Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That's the lifting part of it. On Tuesday and Thursday, we have track and field stuff. But, on those days I'll also do Pilates before I go to the track," mentioned Thompson. "I do Pilates two days a week. It's good for the hips and the core, and it's especially good for guys like us. It's something that Chad provides. He has a Pilates section in the gym."

While the grind of a summer workout regimen might wear on some NHL veterans over time, that hasn't been the case for Thompson so far. 

He still enjoys pushing himself in the hopes of extending his playing career far beyond the upcoming season.

"I've been doing it for so long now, but I still have that competitive drive. We have challenges in the gym and I still want to beat the young guys. I want to play as long as I can. The only way to do that is to put in the work. You've still got to be competitive and enjoy what you're doing. I do. I enjoy it. I love going to the gym and getting a good sweat. I feel better when I'm doing it," concluded Thompson. "Seeing where I'm at now, I've been fortunate to play for so long that I still think I can play longer. Training is such a big part of the game and I love it. I love hockey so much. I guess I'm a little bit of a hidden hockey nerd. I love the game and I love everything that comes with it."

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