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Infamous bike tests loom for young prospects

by Mike G. Morreale /
In the summer before the 2010 NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto, Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin opted to give the aerobic-max VO2 bike test a shot "just for fun" with his agency.

Those familiar with the test, which measures the endurance capability of a player's heart, lungs and muscles, knows it happens to be the most grueling of all the endurance tests conducted by York University for the benefit of the 30 NHL teams.

"I ended up throwing up after the VO2 (during the practice run)," Seguin said. "It's very difficult. You try to stay positive. I talked to guys who did it the year before my draft year and talked to guys who did it for practice. They said the bike tests are pretty hard. You have casual stuff, like bench press, push-ups, sit-ups, which you've done before. But the bikes are quite tough."

Seguin survived the Combine phase of the bike test and would ultimately be chosen second overall by the Boston Bruins at the 2010 Entry Draft at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Last year, six players lasted more than 14 minutes on the VO2, led by Slovakian defenseman Martin Marcincin, (14:15), who was drafted by the Oilers in the second round (No. 46 overall). Halifax Mooseheads goaltender Mathieu Corbeil-Theriault, taken by Columbus in the fourth round (No. 102 overall), went 14:03.

Four players went exactly 14 minutes -- South Shore forward Charlie Coyle (San Jose, first round, No. 28 overall), AIK defenseman Patrik Nemeth (Dallas, second round, No. 41 overall), Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Dylan McIlrath (New York Rangers, first round, No. 10 overall) and Medicine Hat Tigers right wing Emerson Etem (Anaheim Ducks, first round, No. 29 overall).

NHL Central Scouting's No. 1-rated North American skater, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Red Deer, is looking forward to the bike tests. Nugent-Hopkins is actually one of eight prospects ready to hit the fitness testing portion of the Combine first on Friday. Included in that group are Tyler Biggs, Mark McNeill, Logan Shaw, Rocco Grimaldi, Nicholas Shore, Scott Mayfield and Jamieson Oleksiak.

"I've heard about the bike tests (Wingate anaerobic measure and aerobic-max VO2) and I know they'll be pretty tough, but I think my cardio is pretty good so I should be OK on the VO2," Nugent-Hopkins told "But the Wingate is pretty tough. I'm trying to prepare myself for that, but I guess you never can prepare yourself enough for it."

It isn't too uncommon to see a few players cradling a trash can following the Wingate test, an obvious indication that their body has had enough.

"I've heard stories (regarding the bike tests) that haven't been too positive," said No. 31-ranked North American skater Seth Ambroz of the USHL's Omaha Lancers. "But it'll be fun to see what happens. I'm not too worried about it. I'm just going to go there and give them all I've got."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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