Like most hockey players, Scott Mayfield is a creature of habit. Once the postseason is underway, the Isles defenseman returns to Colorado for the summer where he trains at his alma mater, visits family and friends and gets in ice time with fellow University of Denver alums. After a shortened summer, a result of a berth to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Mayfield maintained his typical offseason plans with the exception of two out of the ordinary affairs.
Mayfield proposed to his long-term girlfriend Emily Bayless in June, while the couple was on a hike just south of Breckenridge with their Goldendoodle Odis. Mayfield orchestrated the big moment by coordinating with Bayless' brother as the photographer and threw her off the scent after the couple purchased their first home together back on Long Island.
"She had no idea," Mayfield said. "I told her we were going to either buy a house or look at rings. We bought the house so I told her, 'No chance we can buy a ring now.' So, she had no idea. It was awesome. She's super excited. It was a freezing day, but we had a good time."
That was the highlight of the summer for Mayfield, who spent the early part of the summer rehabbing an ankle injury that he had sustained during the Islanders playoff run. The tenacious blueliner - who had a team-high 159 blocked shots - tailored his training to enhance his speed. After coming off of a career-high season with 19 points (4G, 15A) and finishing plus-18, Mayfield feels he is still at an age where he can push his limits in the weight room and on the ice, while also incorporating more and more recovery exercises into the mix.
"I'm still at the point where I'm young enough that I can keep trying to get stronger and bigger." Mayfield said. "There's a little more maintenance that comes around. Obviously, with playoffs and with the ankle, skating was a little bit different this year. I did a lot more on-ice stuff, edgework and speed stuff. The game is just getting so fast. You have to be working on that every summer. You see the guys that are able to play later on in their careers and they're so fast. So, that's the biggest thing for me."
As is custom, Mayfield trained at the University of Denver this summer, his alma mater from 2011-13. He's far from the only NHLer to work out in Denver either, with established players like Paul Stastny and Tyler Bozak and a younger wave of budding NHLers like Bridgeport's Scott Eansor, Anaheim's Troy Terry, San Jose's Dylan Gambrell and Colorado's Logan O'Connor training at altitude. Plus, the additions of Colorado Avalanche players pop in and out throughout the summer.
Video: Summer Series: Mayfield's DU Workout
"We've always had a really good group in Denver," Mayfield said. "The group is fun, competitive and you're training in altitude which helps - I mean it definitely can't hurt. I feel better."
Another drop-in during the Colorado skates was Isles' 2018 first-round pick Oliver Wahlstrom, who spends parts of his summer in Colorado after returning stateside from Sweden. Mayfield used it as a chance to get more familiar with the prospect, who is gearing up for his first full season as a pro.
"We talked a lot about him staying with me in the summer," Mayfield explained. "He ended up not. He goes home to Sweden for the first part of the summer and then he was in Denver. I saw him every once in a while, at the skates and stuff. We're both here now so it's good to see him."
The familiar Isles faces around Denver didn't end with Eansor and Wahlstrom. Mayfield had trained a handful of times with Semyon Varlamov through the years, as Varalmov was a netminder for the Avalanche from 2011-18. Mayfield will be seeing a lot more of Varlamov, as the goalie inked four-year deal as an unrestricted free agent with the Islanders on July 1.
"I've trained with him before," Mayfield said. "Especially when guys like [Matt] Duchene and [Tyson] Barrie were still on the [Colorado Avalanche] they would pop in [at DU] when they were in town. It's good that he's out here and getting to know everyone. We're excited to have him."
Mayfield capped his summer with a trip to Italy for his brother Patrick's wedding, one last reprieve from the daily demands of the season. Now, back on Long Island for the informal skates at Northwell, Mayfield is eager for the upcoming season. He and his counterparts on the blueline are looking to build off of the nearly unprecedented success that they constructed last season.
"I'm excited, I'm ready for it," Mayfield said. "I feel like I always get antsy at this time of year. Summer is great because we always get to see our family and friends. I was a little nervous going to Italy at this time of year because I usually like to get back by now and get settled, but it worked out. I just start getting antsy when it really comes down to it. I think we've got a good team. We obviously know our coaching is there. Our systems are going to be strong and we've done some good things."