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Golden Knights Strength And Conditioning Coach Shaped By Gary Roberts

Much of the Golden Knights' new hire's philosophy was shaped in his time working with former NHL player Gary Roberts

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights /

Connor McDavid.

Steven Stamkos.

Mark Scheifele.

Besides being elite NHL scorers, these three young franchise centers have something in common: Gary Roberts.

As in, a regular part of their offseason workout programs are based around being clients at the Gary Roberts High Performance Centre in suburban Toronto.

It's there that Roberts, a retired 22-year NHL veteran who used cutting-edge training methods to survive several potentially career-ending injuries, runs his facility and passes along his philosophies to young athletes.

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It's also there that Doug Davidson, the Golden Knights' new strength and conditioning coach, acquired the foundation of his career that has now led him to Vegas.

Davidson, a 2013 graduate of Queen's University, served as a strength and conditioning coach at Roberts' facility his first two years out of school, leading to his most recent position with the American Hockey League's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. 

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"Never met Gary before I went to my first interview," Davidson said. "He was intimidating the first time, but in a good way. He's a guy that obviously, and rightfully so, commands respect.

"Through that, I was lucky enough that I got the opportunity to work with some of the top guys pretty really early on, as well as run some of the things with the younger athletes."

As Davidson is quick to point out, he doesn't want to take any credit for the NHL success that many of Roberts' clients have had.

But whether it's McDavid, Stamkos, Schiefele or even current Stanley Cup Finalist with the Nashville Predators James Neal, Davidson has had exposure to top NHL players dating back to his first year out of college.

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Which learning from his hands-on experience with these players, as well as getting a crash course in everything from nutrition to how to individualize player workouts from Roberts, is what shapes the style of the person the Golden Knights have hired.

"McDavid, I was lucky enough to kind of be involved in some capacity," Davidson said. "In terms of supervising some of his tests, from the time he was about 16, I was involved, which was pretty cool.

"Scheifele was another guy that was around from when I started that had an unbelievable progression.

"When I first started, I was all about the weight room and getting powerful. The big takeaway I had from Gary is him is while it's (being powerful) absolutely important, and you can't get away without it, it's only one piece of the puzzle. It's really the holistic approach to being a pro hockey player that's going to set apart the guys that are going to be able to perform on a night in, night out basis over 82 games and continue to do that for long careers.

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"The way I do it is usually very much individualized. I'm not a big believer, either from nutrition or from training, that one size fits all. Everyone's got a different makeup.

"The way I kind of run things is there are certain things I think are important across the board. And those are the key things in my program. From there, as I get to know an athlete, I'll maybe add one or two extra things or switch out another thing to make it a bit more individualized. It's a process.

"Another thing is, you could be really good in the weight room, but if that doesn't transfer over, that's not relevant at all. Everything has to come back to on-ice performance.

"Everything ultimately comes down to what goes on the ice. I'm going to design my approach to try to best prepare the players for what happens on the ice."

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