I think you can never discount being shoulder-to-shoulder with somebody, talking to somebody and watching them move. - Rich Hesketh
CALGARY, AB -- If the NHL Scouting Combine was the cattle show, the more personal combine the Calgary Flames are hosting is the better time to poke and prod.
Headed by Flames strength and conditioning coach Rich Hesketh, the opportunity to bring players into Calgary for a closer examination offers a better opportunity to evaluate the physical attributes of players.
"I think you can never discount being shoulder-to-shoulder with somebody, talking to somebody and watching them move," he said. "In the combine situation, it's like a cattle show. Guys are rolling through one after another and sometimes they start to roll into a blur with each other."
But don't expect to see Hesketh standing over the Calgary invites, push potential Flames' picks through another dreaded VO2 max test.
That's not his intention.
"What we're trying to assess when we bring them in is not how hard they're going to work, we've seen them work," he said. "I've seen them do a VO2 max. I've seen them do a 30-second wingate test. What my role is going to be is some of the intangibles that you can't necessarily see."
Instead, Hesketh has a different set of evaluations ready for those chosen to come to the Stampede City.
"Movement patterning, more how they move their fluidity of movement through their hips, shoulders and back and as well do a pretty solid anthropometric measurement -- not just the sic sight they use at the combine -- but a fully body and get an idea of what their thigh masses are and arm mass and how much muscle mass they're carrying, not just body fat. That's an important element for an athlete."
The tests are far from trivial for an organization trying to get the best read on not only where a player is today, but where Hesketh and the Flames hope to take him tomorrow.
Being able to interact and evaluate different physical attributes is very important for Hesketh.
"It's going to be interesting to both talk to them, find out what they're doing right now in their lives as far as training goes and then take them through some movement patterning which we feel is important for them to be successful as an athlete -- both to keep them from getting injured -- but also so they can maximize their power from the ground up," he said.
It's something he does regularly with both Flames players and prospects.
Unlike his involvement with his Calgary crew, Hesketh isn't going to have time to made adjustments. Instead, he's taking nothing more than an analytical look at the composition of those eligibles brought in.
"This is going to be purely evaluation," he said. "Here's a task, lets see how you do, give them a few tries to correct. If they can correct, you know they're on the right track. If there's some right-side, left-side deficiencies, things with balance or coordination that maybe can't be corrected, then we need to know that and it needs to be something that is very concise, short and to the point, but gives us a lot of information."
Unlike the NHL's combine, players may not know exactly what to expect, making it hard to prepare for a task they don't know is coming.
Exactly the way Hesketh wants it.
"Reality is hopefully they haven't really studied for this test because I'd like to take them out of their comfort zone and put them into some positions that maybe they haven't otherwise been in."
And giving Hesketh a personal look into the physical makeup of some potential Flames prospects.