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A Year-Round Sport

by Jason Lockhart / New York Islanders
Following the conclusion of Islanders Prospects Camp in July, the future of the Islanders scattered to their homes all across the world to prepare for the upcoming season. Some, including 2008 first round pick Josh Bailey, continued their hockey playing at World Junior Development Camps for their respective countries. But once August hit, there was little, to no hockey being played.

While it may seem that August would be a good time for young players to get their rest, and to gear up for September's Training Camps, it's in fact quite the opposite. It's in August, during this supposed "down time," that players must train their hardest in order to have a good start to the season.
"If a player hasn't been training properly, especially leading up to the season, it will be noticeable right away when their season starts or when Islanders Training camp starts," explained Islanders Assistant GM/Director of Amateur Scouting Ryan Jankowski. "Now that all of the Camps are over, this gives them the opportunity to work on their training and strength development."
Part of the Islanders Prospects Camp's goal is to not only evaluate the young Islanders, but also to educate. For those players who were just drafted, Prospects Camp was an opportunity for them to learn from the best in the business, not just about playing hockey, but about taking care of their bodies. Prospects Camp provides an educational setting for learning about proper fitness and nutritional habits.
"Expectations were set with every kid individually through the development team of Bryan Trottier and Eric Cairns, along with Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Schwarz," said Jankowski. "Every player was given full direction on how they should be progressing this summer with their training. As players enter into their Major Junior training camps, enroll in college classes and get ready for Islanders Camp, it's exciting for us to see the progress the players have made with their bodies, since mini-camp in July.
Many of the Islanders prospects have hired personal trainers or have groups to help with their off-ice workouts, but others have chosen to utilize the benefits of being part of an NHL organization. Clarkson forward Shea Guthrie, who was drafted in 2005 and QMJHL defenseman Simon Lacroix, selected in the 2007 Entry Draft, both train with Schwarz up in Ottawa during the summer.
Bryan Trottier with Sean Bentivoglio at 2008 Prospects Camp
No one knows better than Islanders captain Bill Guerin about the importance of summer training. Guerin began his pro playing career as summer workout programs began to increase in intensity.
"When I started summer workouts, it just starting to change into more than just running and lifting weights," said Guerin. "Plyometrics and lifting became bigger. At the time, these seemed like crazy things, but now it's the norm. Not everyone worked out then, but now everyone has to, especially the young players."
Guerin will see a lot of unfamiliar faces at this year's Training Camp due to the large draft class and free agent signing, but he can still spot the veterans from the rookies.
"You can pick out the very young guys from the shape they come into Camp," said Guerin. "It's expensive to work out to find someone who knows what they're doing. There is also a learning curve. You have to do the best with what you've got."
Effective off-season workouts not only have an immediate impact, but long-lasting ones as well.
"What you do in July will help in February and March to get you through the grind," said Guerin. "It's also important to build good habits early that will take you into your later years."
For Guerin, those early habits that were just being developed in his early years have allowed him to maintain a high standard of performance over the past 17 years.

Click here for IslandersTV video from Prospects Camp in July.
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