The NHL Combine, Scores, Studying And Training

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The NHL Combine, scores, studying and training May 14, 2012 8:23 AM

In the summer all serious hockey players train for the upcomming season, those headed to the NHL draft train for the combine. In just a few weeks, most of the NHL’s very important people will gather in Toronto.

Draft hopefuls will participate in team interviews. Each club devises a list of questions that are supposed to reveal insight into a teenager’s psychological makeup. One of the more popular queries: Would you take a pill that guarantees you the Cup but trims several years off your life?

Not all of the questions asked make a whole lot of sense. Some are intentionaly designed to creat ethical conflicts in the thought process while eliciting a competitive response.

On June 1-2, they will shuttle through a battery of physical tests. Examples include the VO2 Max bike test to measure aerobic fitness, vertical jump, and bench press. In theory, the databases assembled on each player will serve as guides for the June 21-22 draft in Pittsburgh. It’s up to each team to determine what percentage of the combine data will be in play when making decisions.

With all the money in play for high-end prospects, the top players are being trained – whether it’s through their junior teams, college clubs, or agents – to wring the best performance out of each combine test.

The bench press, is timed. Trainers mimic the combine’s setting by using a metronome to set the pace. The Wingate bike test, which measures anaerobic fitness, is set at 30 seconds. Trainers now train players for that specific time frame – no more, no less. Even if an 18-year-old initially can do only one repetition at 150 pounds on the bench, a month or two of training can bring him up to 10.

Success at the draft isn’t about focusing just on the combine. It’s about folding in the combine information with in-person viewings, video scouting, player and coach interviews, and all-around evaluation and projection.

Often times, sources outside of traditional NHL scouting are also contacted. Neighbors, friends, former classmates, teachers and informal scouts are often consulted. Character of the player is often considered to be just as important as any test that may be administered at the combine. How do the players manage to get through the scrutiny?

Guidance. Nearly every successful player entering the draft has surrounded themselves with an agent or adviser at a very early stage in their carrer. Achieving is no longer simply about performance on the ice, it now takes an off ice team, a plan, and often little luck to make it through the draft.

Like any other business, NHL teams want to secure the most productive, yet stable assets they can. If you are one of those fortunate few with a chance or interest in playing NHL hockey, the key phrase to remember: Preparation. You can never over prepare for the NHL.

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