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Fitness Testing Pushes Prospects To Their Limit

Friday, 05.28.2010 / 7:20 PM ET / 2010 NHL Draft
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Fitness Testing Pushes Prospects To Their Limit

Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Staff Writer 

TORONTO --
The first day of fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine saw some of the top prospects for the 2010 Entry Draft get pushed to their physical limits.

The players were put through their paces during an array of events that measured upper-body and lower-body strength, as well as endurance -- all while being watched and graded by strength and conditioning coaches, scouts and general managers from each of the NHL's 30 teams.

It can be an intimidating experience, but the players said they did their best to stay focused on the grueling task at hand.

"I just blocked out the people," Barrie Colts center Alexander Burmistrov told NHL.com. "I don't care. I just want do my work. It was really hard."

"It was (weird) at first," added Calgary Hitmen defenseman Matt MacKenzie, who had the honor of being the first player to enter the testing circuit. "Once you kind of block everyone out, you get through the first couple (of stations) and then you just focus on the workout."

Medicine Hat Tigers forward Emerson Etem said all the watchful eyes actually pushed him to work harder.

"It definitely pushed my limits a lot more," he said. "It was great to have that. It definitely pushed me, gave me a lot more energy, made me want to strive to go longer. And it did exactly that."

After taking basic body measurements of height, weight, wing span and body fat at the start of the circuit, the players had their grip strength and push/pull strength measured. Then there were push-ups and sit-ups done to a pace measured by a metronome, followed by a 150-pound bench press. After that was the sit-and-reach test to measure flexibility, followed by a standing long jump, a four-kilogram seated ball toss, a jump-time mat and a vertical leap. The players then tried to stay on a balance board for one minute, and then went through a hexagonal jump pad test to measure quick feet and overall agility.

After that came the two most famously tortuous parts of the Combine fitness testing -- the Wingate Cycle Ergometer, which measures a player's power output during a 30-second burst, and the VO2 Max test, which measures a player's endurance.

"It was a little hard to sleep last night, getting geared up for this," said Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin, NHL Central Scouting's No. 1-rated North American skater for this year's draft.

"Probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," added Prince George Cougars forward Brett Connolly, No. 3 on Central Scouting's list. "They kind of ease you into the bikes. The bikes were the toughest part. Once you hit the bikes it was game over. It was definitely hard and I'm happy it's over, for sure."

The Wingate test is geared to measure how much energy a player uses during an average NHL shift.

"If you've got somebody who is killing a penalty or someone who is trying to score a goal and you've got them on the ice for 30 seconds, what this tells us is what they have left at the end of 30 seconds," Dr. Norm Gledhill, Director of Human Performance Lab at York University, who supervises the fitness testing, told NHL.com.

"The Wingate is by far the hardest thing I've ever done," said Nobles School forward Kevin Hayes. "It's 30 seconds, and some people say it's 'only 30 seconds, it shouldn't be that bad,' but it's pretty bad."

The VO2 max measures a player's aerobic fitness.

"If the anaerobic (Wingate) is a shift, the VO2 max is a game," said Gledhill. "If they go into overtime, what do they have left? The higher the aerobic fitness, the better fitness over the duration of the game."

The bike tests leave the players drenched in sweat and gasping for air; some even become physically ill.

"I did (the bike tests) for fun last summer," said Seguin, "and that was the last time I threw up. This was the most recent time. It was very exhausting."

Seguin wasn't the only player to have that happen, so he shouldn't feel too bad. At least he can take comfort in the fact that he went through it and survived. A number of players going on the second day poked their head into the testing room to watch the proceedings. Anyone who didn't it certain to hear about it from friends who went on Friday.

"I'm going to my hotel room and tell my roommate (Curtis Hamilton) the horror stories," MacKenzie said. "Get him scared for tomorrow."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com

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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
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11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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