DETROIT – Following Friday’s development, Red Wings prospect Brooks Macek felt the repercussions of two long days.
“I was a little sore from the first day, but I guess you’ve got to battle through that,” he said. “That’s the difference between juniors and pros, just the everyday, everyday.”
He may have been sore physically, but Macek has the mental part under control, having personal experience as a hockey instructor. He knows what to expect.
The Wings’ sixth-round draft pick from last month is a graduate of the Notre Dame Athol Murray College in Saskatchewan, which is widely renowned for their male and female hockey programs. Alumni include current and former NHL stars such as Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier, and Rod Brind'Amour.
Macek, a Winnipeg native, participated in camps at the school as a youngster before heading there for high school. For his first job, they hired him as an instructor, and he’ll return there later this summer.
“It’s kind of cool when you’re teaching it, because I guess you’re a little older, and the kids kind of look up to you,” he said. “When you’re that young, you’re like, ‘Oh, I wish I could be like that.’”
Until Tuesday, however, he’s still the student here in Detroit, and he’s already figured out what he wants to improve — his strength and conditioning.
Talent alone doesn’t cut it at the NHL level. Elite hockey players are constantly lifting, biking, and running when they’re off the ice.
And that fact hasn’t escaped Macek, who plans to take the strength and conditioning exercises he’s gotten from development camp back to the Western Hockey League to prepare for the bigger, faster pros.
“Just being in the gym more often, more consistently,” the 5-foot-11, 170-pound center said of what he’s now going to implement into his routine. “Even after games, even just going in and doing a couple sets of whatever. I’d say basically just working out more often.”
He’s already tweaked his summer training regimen once, and that’s paid dividends.
Macek went from scoring 24 points in 60 games in the 2008-09 season to posting 73 points in 70 games in 2009-10. He also had a stellar playoff run to boot, posting 17 points in 21 playoff games.
“It was just a lot of hard work over the summer,” Macek said, of increasing his point total by almost 200 percent.
That’s exactly what Curt Fraser, coach of the Wings’ Grand Rapids affiliate, expects from prospects like Macek after their first week at development camp, which winds up Tuesday at City Arena in Detroit.
“They've been introduced to Detroit, how we want to play, the things they need to do, and they start implementing them into their everyday things,” Fraser said. “The off-ice training really helps them. I think this camp is fantastic for these young men. It's going to introduce them, give them an idea of what they have to do to play for the best team in the world one day. And they better start doing it right now, because there's a not a lot of time.”
And Macek plans to be ready when his time with the Wings comes.
He’s returning to Tri-City for at least one more season, and hopes to keep building off the previous year’s success, and what he’s learning here in Detroit will certainly help.
“I’m really happy to be part of the team,” he said, “part of the franchise.”