Party's over for Torres

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

Raffi Torres is setting the bar high this year.

And he plans on reaching that bar by ... well, by spending less time in the bar.

The bullish left winger with the jaw-dropping physical tools hasn't always shown the off-ice dedication necessary to be a top-six forward, something he readily admits and vows to change.

"I wasn't dedicated before, I'll be the first one to tell you that," said a lean and sculpted Torres, after pre-camp medicals at the University of Alberta.

"I think I grew up a lot this summer. I stayed away from hanging out with people I shouldn't be hanging out with. I'm just kind of getting my act together.

"I'm 25 years old. I want to play this game for another 10 years. I don't want to be one of those guys who only plays until 30. They don't take care of themselves and they're not in the game anymore."

Torres has a substandard season last year - 15 goals after 27 the year before - and headed into the summer wondering if his days here were numbered.

Then, when his off-ice running mate Joffrey Lupul was dealt to Philadelphia, he knew he had to pick up his game or risk being on the next bus out.

He says his lifestyle was never a serious problem, it was just eating away at his potential.

"That life is a fun life - going out and hanging out with your buddies, shooting the breeze, catching up on old times," he said.

"But there's times and places to do that instead of doing it every night.

"Iwant to take care of myself. I want to get my playing ability up to par.

"I want to be peaking - just go out and not have to worry about anything off the ice, just go out and play hockey."

That's what he did all summer, and says he can already see the dividends.

"I was watching what I was eating and felt better every day," said Torres, who signed a three-year contract extension in July.

"And I haven't been drinking - not that it was a problem - but I haven't been drinking all summer long. I was able to get up early get my workouts in and put 100% into them every day."

It was an off-season training regimen at the club's camp in Los Angeles that included everything from track and field and powerlifting to mixed martial arts. He's 215 pounds, with under 10% body fat.

"I haven't been under 10 in four or five years," he said, crediting his girlfriend for helping keep him focused.

"My girlfriend, that was always the one (who tried). She ended up moving in with me this summer and kept a close eye on me.

"I've also grown up, too.

"That stuff (partying) is not even on my mind. All that's on my mind right now is going out and playing hockey and trying to get this team where it should be."


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