After spending much of the summer abroad, Michael Grabner is stateside in preparation for the upcoming 2014-15 NHL season. It’s not easy to catch one of the fastest players in the league, but newyorkislanders.com tracked down the fan favorite and asked him about Austrian summers, offseason training and if he's added to his favorite "hobby."
NewYorkIslanders.com: How was your summer?
Michael Grabner: I went back home (Austria) a couple weeks after the season ended for almost three months. I trained there, started skating there a month ago and I was enjoying my time with family and friends. It was good overall except the weather wasn’t nice this year. We didn’t get too many sunny days, but it was good for training because you just wanted to go to the gym instead of sit around at home.
NYI: Tell me more about the training. You look like you’ve gotten bigger.
MG: The coaches wanted all of us to get a little bit bigger and stronger. Obviously we’re a fast team, but we want to be more physical and a stronger team, so we don’t get pushed around. I tried to focus on that in the beginning of the summer. I put on a few pounds, but my body fat is still low. I put on ‘good weight’ so I’m not getting fat. I always drop some weight during the season and during training camp to. I don’t expect to be the exact same weight I am now, but a few more pounds will hopefully help me during one-on-one battles. I don’t think it should affect my speed too much, it’s not like I gained 40 pounds.
Now that we’re back on the ice, it’s time to get into game shape and obviously try to work on some moves and my hands.
NYI: Have you worked on developing a couple of go-to moves for breakaways?
MG: It’s different in a game situation than in a shootout. In a game situation, it first depends on which angle you’re coming in on the goalie. You don’t always get to decide which way you’re coming in and then you have to read off the goalie. Obviously you try to have a couple of moves in mind, your go-to moves, but I’m definitely trying some new stuff and I’m going to stick with it and see how it works this year. I want to score more goals than last year.
NYI: The team was pretty busy this offseason adding new pieces like Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin. How do you feel about the summer moves?
MG: It’s been good. I think we got stronger in the positions that we picked guys up. It gives us a little more variety and more versatility to move lines and shift players around if things aren’t working. It’ll be exciting to see how the new guys mesh with the team coming into training camp. I haven’t heard anything bad about these guys, so it shouldn’t be too hard to come in and get used to our group. We’re a young team and pretty open and usually make new guys feel right at home. It’s getting pretty close to camp and I can’t wait to see the guys again and get back to New York and start the season.
NYI: Any new ink to unveil when you return?
MG: Yeah I got a couple of tattoos. I have a new saying on my ribs and a new tattoo on my stomach. The one on my lower stomach is a piece of the Olympic rings and I have four aces – the ace of spades, ace of hearts, ace of diamonds and ace of clubs – because they are game pieces and because life is a game.
I would have liked to done some more, but I didn’t have time with all of the travelling and stuff. We’ll see, maybe a few more in the next couple of weeks, but if not, I’ll wait till the end of next year.