It’s still July and training camp won’t begin until September, but for professional hockey players, there really isn’t an offseason anymore. Sure, there’s a few weeks of down time after the season ends, as well as a well deserved vacation to a sandy beach at some point, but being an NHL player is a year-round job.
Training camp isn’t a place to get in shape, but more a chance to keep a job or find that little extra that will help the team down the road. Maybe even make them strong enough to lift a silver cup after the last game.
Players work out wherever they’re at in the summer -- New York, Florida or Newfoundland. For numerous Sharks who spend a great deal of the offseason in San Jose, they get the added bonus of working out at the Sharks training facility at Sharks Ice.
It’s not always the same group, but anywhere from three to seven Sharks will find themselves raising their fitness level.
Goaltender Thomas Greiss
, who would normally be in Germany for the entire summer, is working hard at the facility every day in hopes of getting more playing time in 2010-11. While he definitely hits the gym every summer back in Europe, it’s a different feeling being around his teammates every day.
“It’s going good so far,” Greiss said. “It’s a lot more fun working out with the guys. It’s good having guys around like Joe (Thornton), Patty (Marleau) and Pavs (Joe Pavelski
). There are always four, five or six guys.”
“It’s nice to work out with someone and have the other guys around,” Marleau said. “We push each other and the other guys cheer for you. It’s good peer pressure.”
The group setting not only makes the days more enjoyable, but also more challenging.
“It’s motivating to have them watching when you need to do one more pull up,” Greiss said. “You look around and it’s kind of a competition, too.”
Marleau has a well-deserved reputation for showing up with one of the highest fitness levels, but he notes that it’s not the same schedule every year.
“It’s been an evolution the last five or six years,” Marleau said. “There’s more work on the little stability muscles instead of everything on the main big muscle groups. Making everything work in unison.”
Every player has a different goal with their summer conditioning. For Greiss, it’s a little of everything, with a little extra emphasis on quickness.
“It’s my overall conditioning,”Greiss said, “but I want to get quicker too.”
Greiss, 24, noted that maintaining flexibility was critical during the summer months as netminders have to be more acrobatic than anyone else.
“I’m not too old,” Greiss said, “but I’m not young.”
For players like Greiss, who traditionally spend three months in Europe, the extra time in San Jose allows time to visit the best parts of the region. Greiss did return to Germany after the season, but has been in Silicon Valley for the last three weeks.
“I went to Tahoe and it is really nice up there,” Greiss said. “I also went to Hawaii.”
Soon, more players will be joining this group and the captain’s practices will begin. Then training camp will begin and before they know it, the players will be playing preseason games, followed by the regular season opener in Sweden.
It may be summer time, but it’s definitely not a time off for the NHLers.