Training regimes come a long way

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

In hockey's golden era, training was simple: push-ups, sit-ups, laps, stops and starts and maybe a game of catch with a leather medicine ball. And off season training was even simpler: There was none.

Now, as the Edmonton Oilers' leg-weary prospects can certainly attest, it's a science that forces elite hockey players to work harder in the summer than their predecessors ever did in winter.

"The guys are all pretty sore," said defenceman Taylor Chorney, after the third-day of on- and off-ice drills at the club's development camp.

"They've been putting us through some tough workouts, but you can tell that if you stick with this stuff through an entire summer it'll really benefit you."

Instructor Steve Serdachny, who runs skating and skills camps for over 6,000 professional and amateur players in eight countries, says it's all about drawing more from athletes who didn't even know they had more to give.

"They're all good skaters, but to become excellent and move up to that NHL level, they have to bring their game and their speed up," said Serdachny, who's been working with the Oilers for five years.

With over 23 years of experience in the skating and skills business, much of it over in Europe, he's mined and developed some unorthodox-looking drills. But teams and players all across the hockey world swear by the results.

"Even some of the things we did on the track (with Oilers strength and conditioning consultant Chad Moreau) I'd never done before," said Chorney. "But you can tell, just from waking up in the morning, how sore you are, that you have to be working something."

Nobody's complaining, though.

"Their goal is to be a successful hockey player, and if I can help them get there, they're going to be receptive," said Serdachny, who has a DVD series that's translated into five languages.

"We do a lot of things with foot speed, co-ordination and agility that maybe they're not going to be super proficient at first, but it pushes them and challenges them so when they do simple things like work the puck up the wing or drive the net, it becomes much easier because they're solid on their feet and they've got speed."

The kids learn in a hurry how being a hockey player becomes a full-time job at the professional level.

"My dad played pro in the late '70s and early '80s and he told me stories of guys he played with having a cigarette between periods," said Colin McDonald, Edmonton's second-round pick in 2003.

"You did nothing all summer and went to training camp to get in shape. Now it's a year-round job."

HOWSON IN THE MIX

With Anaheim assistant GM Bob Murray having withdrawn his name from consideration for the vacant GM job in Columbus, Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson is back in the mix. He's been asked for a second interview.


Videos

Photos