Whether watching the New York Islanders live at the Coliseum or on TV, there’s always one guy standing behind the bench in Islanders blue that makes you wonder, ‘Hey! Who is he?’ Then, on the rare occasion that you see him in the spotlight, you realize that you were better off not learning who he was.
When fans are introduced to Garrett Timms, it’s usually because a player is lying face down on the ice as the result of a high stick or a wayward puck. The Islanders athletic trainer hops the boards and races to the rescue, rushing across the ice faster than you can count to three.
You may only see him for a brief moment, but from then on, you hope you never have to see Timms on the ice again. Believe it or not, Timms would be happier if you never heard his name or saw his face again and it’s not because he’s camera shy, but because he doesn’t like seeing new injuries.
|Trainer Garrett Timms walks John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders off the ice after his injury in the game against the Dallas Stars at the Nassau Coliseum on October 9, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. The Stars defeated the Islanders 5-4 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) |
Unfortunately for the Islanders, Timms has had more than his 15 minutes of fame this season due to the substantial amount of injuries the team has endured. With more than 600 man-games lost this season, the Islanders led the league.
“We’ve had guys suffer some pretty significant injuries this season,” Timms said. “Facial fractures, torn labrums in their hips to dislocated shoulders and different contact injuries that have happened on the ice. The majority of it is just the nature of the game. You see it throughout the league.”
Timms continued, “We’ve been hit particularly hard this year, but other teams are going through it too. Any time you have these guys playing this game on ice, on two quarter-inch pieces of steel, going mach nine out there, you’re going to have these contact injuries.”
The Isles athletic trainer enjoys his chosen profession, despite the long, strenuous hours.
“I love coming to work everyday,” Timms said. “You get to work with highly motivated athletes that want to get back on the ice. I’ve worked in other settings and these guys are hungrier than most to get back into the game as quickly as possible. So we really try to use every modality or service available to help move them along quickly.”
Timms has a variety of responsibilities on a daily basis. He arrives at the rink early to help some injured players with their rehab, but there are also quite a few other tasks. There is also a lot of prep work involved in getting the rest of the team ready for practice, including the assignment of different stretches and warm-up exercises to ensure that each player performs at a high level.
He does all that with help of his assistant, Nates Goto, before the team takes the ice. Then Timms and Goto coordinate who will watch practice, making sure that in the event a player gets hurt – they’re ready to take action with all of the newest techniques and qualifications in emergency medicine.
But their day doesn’t end there.
“As far as post-practice, there are recovery efforts,” Timms said. “We must stay on top of rehabs for guys and coordinate doctors’ visits. So there are a lot of phone calls and communication with doctors on a daily basis. That’s all very time consuming. At the end of all that, there’s always paperwork that stares us in the face and we try to get that done as well. It’s a full day.”
|Jack Hillen #38 of the New York Islanders is escorted off the ice after an injury against the Washington Capitals on January 26, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) |
Working to keep the guys healthy, there are a variety of different modalities the trainers use to keep the players in their top form and nutrition is just one part of the process. After each practice and game, the trainers whip up some nasty concoctions inside water bottles that not only rehydrate the player, but they replenish his body with all the proper nutrients – a process Timms refers to as “refueling their tanks.”
“We want to make sure that guys are keeping up in their recovery efforts, coordinating with the strength and conditioning coach (Jesse Demers) to make sure guys are getting the proper nutrition, proper recovery, and basically treating them like finely tuned machines,” Timms said.
Then, after the players exercise, playing 60-minutes of hockey at maximum intensity, there’s the cool-down period. While there’s the cold tub and massage, there’s one hockey technique that’s widespread and extremely important.
“Doing flush rides down in the gym, where guys will ride the bikes or the arc or go for a jog at a low heart-rate, low level, to help keep their circulation going and process that lactic acid out. It helps for the next game, next practice.”
Mixed in with all of that, Timms has the extremely important task of keeping Islanders general manager Garth Snow and Head Coach Jack Capuano informed with the most up-to-date information on the health and status of each individual player.
If Timms falters on this task, Snow and Capuano would not be able to make important game-time decisions, such as dressing or scratching players and recalling young prospects from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Thus, in the unfortunate event when a player goes down, Timms and the rest of the Islanders athletic training team are always ready with cutting edge technology and training to make sure the players are receiving the highest standard of care.
This story first appeared in the Islanders Digital Magazine.