Islanders forward Michael Grabner
has had a pretty busy off season. With just six games left in the 2010-11 season, the Austrian winger became a father. As could be expected, his summer was full of firsts: changing diapers, giving baths and soothing the baby back to sleep.
“He’s (Aidan) pretty big now,” Grabner said. “He’s starting to roll over, so he’s kind of getting more of a personality.”
|PHOTO CREDIT: KATHLEEN MALONE-VAN DYKE |
As soon as his small family could travel, Grabner flew them out to his native Austria where they set up a new apartment they’d call home for the next three months.
“I got home and for three weeks straight, I got my apartment finished, bought new furniture and then I had (charity) appearances back home for kids,” Grabner said. “It was a busy summer. I just had the baby, so I didn’t really think about last season too much.”
Even though he didn’t reflect on his team-leading 34-goal season, it wasn’t because he spent hours playing Call of Duty
. Having a baby cut into his video game schedule, but did not affect his training.
“I try to come in (to camp) a little heavier, not overweight, but a little stronger and more muscle, because I know I’m going to lose it (over the course of the season),” Grabner said. “But I feel pretty good on the ice. I think my testing was really good, conditioning and stuff too.”
Although all the players were prepared, the strenuous on and off-ice workouts have been grueling for all the guys.
“The first day was just off-ice testing and you just do what you have to do, but the second day was pretty tough with the on-ice testing, the practice and a couple laps after,” Grabner said. “But it’s camp. You’re trying to get in game shape.”
With just under three weeks until opening night, Grabner’s more than happy to put in the hard work.
“There are some tough days ahead of us, but it’s what we need to get in game shape and be ready for October 8th,” Granber said. “Everyone is putting in a good effort out there, so it’s going to be good.”
Even with the busy summer, there’s no doubt that Grabner’s head is in a better place than it was this time last year. Last preseason, Grabner was acquired by the Islanders after the team which drafted him (Vancouver) traded him to Florida, which then waived him a few days prior to the start of the season.
One thing’s for sure, with his new five-year deal, he’s feeling more confident.
“I just want to have a good season,” Grabner said. “It’s the NHL, it’s tough, but I want to try to do whatever I can to help the team win and play my role the best I can. I love to score goals, so hopefully I can score a lot this year for our team.”
Surely, his teammates and Islanders fans hope he’s able to score a lot, too.