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TAKING SHAPE: GAME DAY PREPARATION

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
by John Popoch


Depending on the player, preparing for a game can be an intricate process. Beginning from the time a player wakes up until he hears the national anthem, each player handles game-day differently.

With less than a month left in the season, Jeremy Roenick's game-day routine remains roughly the same as when he entered the league in 1988.

No matter whether the first puck drops at 7:30 p.m. or 1 p.m., the day starts the same for J.R. Up at 7:30 a.m., Roenick is traditionally one of the first at the rink.

"I get there before 8 a.m.," he said. "If I'm on the road, I don't hit the rink until noon."

It is an early start, which some players may begin with a big breakfast. Roenick, on the other hand, takes it easy to start the day.

"I get coffee, a bagel and the newspaper," said Roenick. "Then I go to the rink, hang out with the boys and do the crossword."

Not exactly an intense beginning, but needed because there is a long day ahead.

"Some days I'll skate depending on whether coach has us on the ice or not," said Roenick.

Then it's lunch, and that is the time J.R. has his most important meal of the day.

"I go to lunch with the boys," he said. "I usually have pasta, chicken parmesan, or spaghetti and meatballs every game. That's important because I have to have my carbohydrates."

It is still early afternoon, so there is plenty of down time.

"I'll go home and take a nap about 1:30 before every game," said Roenick. "Then I get up at 3:45 to be at STAPLES Center by 4:15."

Working out on game day is out of the question.

"You don't run a big course on the day of the race," he said.

So why so early to the rink?

"I make sure I get my sticks taped and done," he said.

This is also the time a player gets mentally ready. For Roenick, the visiting team does not matter.

"It's not so much the opponent as much as how I play," Roenick said.

Before warming up, Roenick has to get in the right frame of mind.

"I'll sit back and watch TV with the boys, then put on some music and dance around the locker room to get my blood flowing."

Then everything really starts to happen. It's game day and people are filing in the building. Employees are lingering around the locker room. There is an electricity in the air.

"Eighteen minutes before warm-ups, I get ready. That's routine for me," said Roenick. "If I'm on the bench when we take the ice, I don't stand up until the anthem singer starts singing. If I'm starting, I don't take the helmet off until they start singing. Once the singer gets to 'the' in 'home of the brave', I put my helmet on."

Roenick has been in the league for 15 years, and it takes intensity, dedication and constant preparation to have that kind of longevity. However, some things have changed since his younger years in the league

"The little intricacies are not as extravagant as they were," he said. "Getting older, and just jumping on the ice, playing and enjoying."

For Roenick, a long, exciting career that includes nearly 500 goals means once the anthem is done and the puck is going to be dropped, as always on game day, J.R. is ready.

"I take a big whiff of smelling salts, drop my gum on the floor and then it is game time."

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