Don't forget the exhibition home finale, Friday at 7 p.m. at the Sugar Land Aerodrome against San Antonio. $7 tickets still remain and can be purchased at either Aerodrome location from 1-8 p.m. daily.
From: Ryan Stanzel
Director of Communications
Wednesday, October 6, 2004
713.361.7930 (Direct Line)
Several Aeros come to camp bigger, stronger
Wild's director of strength and conditioning impressed
Defenseman Zbynek Michalek (standing) is one of many
Aeros who has spent a lot of time in the weight room
SUGAR LAND, Texas Other than the players themselves, perhaps no one understands better that hockey is a 12-month sport than Minnesota Wild director of strength and conditioning Kirk Olson.
Olson, in his second season with the Wild, is largely responsible for the teams off-season training regime. He has also been in Houston for the past two weeks helping the Wilds prospects.
According to Olson, who has also worked for the NFLs Minnesota Vikings, a young hockey players off-season really lasts less than a month.
I usually advise my veterans to take a little more time off, said Olson. Hockey is a constant pounding with rigorous traveling. It gets even worse in the AHL. The younger kids, I usually recommend two to four weeks off. The day after the season ends, they dont feel like working out ever again. But a week later, they start chomping at the bit to get after it. Theyre going stir crazy.
Once the rest period is over, each player begins a training regiment customized for them by the team. Many players then continue the training over the summer at two Wild training camps.
Minnesota first has a strength and conditioning camp, which lasts three weeks and begins in late May. In the first week of July, the team brings in its draft picks in to Breezy Point in Minnesota, and the second week minor league players and young NHL players are brought in to join them for a full prospects developmental camp. At that camp, the Wild staff works with the players on speed, agility and quickness.
Many players in the Aeros training camp this season have made tremendous physical strides in the past 12 months possibly no two more than Zbynek Michalek and Derek Boogaard.
Michalek came to the Wild organization two summers ago at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds. Now, hes up to 200 pounds, with considerably broader shoulders than he had even at the end of the 2003-04 season.
We didnt do anything out of the ordinary with him, said Olson. Its called hard work. He came in and put his nose to the grindstone. At the end of last season, he spent some time with the Wild, and Im sure he heard it from (Wild head coach) Jacques Lemaire and the staff during the exit interviews. Im sure they had things to say to him. Were always candid. Were not going to pull any punches. Its their career, and we want to help them.
Michaleks work ethic is something Olson has seen with many European players.
One thing you notice about Z-Man and all the European players
They are very professional in what they do. Mikko Koivu too, said Olson. They work hard in everything you ask them to do. They are adamant in paying attention to detail. Zbynek is not a real vocal leader, but in my opinion hes definitely a leader by example. We put the ball in the players court. Z fired back and worked his tail off. Therefore, the muscle size and strength has come.
While Boogaard has worked to reshape his gargantuan 6-foot-7, 270-pound frame to include more muscle, his greatest work has come in his agility and skating ability.
Two years ago in ECHL Louisiana, Boogaard was considered a project. He started to reap the benefits of hard work last season in Houston, receiving more ice time. In the 2004-05 pre-season, Boogaard has already scored his first two goals, and he is notably faster.
Hes always been a fairly strong skater, said Olson. The big thing that needed to happen for him was he needed to become more coordinated. Hes 6-foot-7 on skates, 270 pounds. Its my intent, and our intent, to get him down 10 pounds and it will help him even more. He just needed time to grow into his body and become an athlete. You saw those two goals. Youd call them finesse goals. You wouldnt call them garbage goals.
Olson said Boogaards confidence, bolstered by his performance in Saturdays pre-season game, is a key to his success.
Derek Boogaard had two goals
in Saturday's exhibition game
The big thing for Boogie is not necessarily his size and strength, its his confidence level, said Olson. He believes he should be here. I think two years ago he had trouble thinking he fit in. It all comes together to one to help create that confidence.
One of the reasons Olson said he likes to work so hard with tough players like Boogaard and Minnesotas Matt Johnson are so they arent pigeon-holed into an enforcer role.
I want my guys to be as skillful as possible, he said. We need to continue to work on Boogies stick handling. He needs to become better at that. When these players, like he and Moose, become more skillful, theyre a double or triple threat. They hold onto the puck and create space and score goals. All of a sudden you have to pay attention to more than just getting hit with a roundhouse right. They arent just a big body, they can score and they can skate. Boogies really fast once he gets those long legs going. He can get up and going pretty good.
Now that Boogaard is using his legs more when he skates, the next step is working on his quickness.
He needs to enhance his quickness, said Olson. It will make him even more of a lethal player.
One final player that Olson is excited to get the chance to see is goalie Mike Smith. He belongs to another organization Dallas but that doesnt stop Olsons jaw dropping at the sight of the 6-foot-3, 210-pound netminder.
Kirk Olson keeps a watchful eye on Aeros goalie Mike Smith
The first really well built goalie I saw was Rick DiPietro, said Olson, who has helped Smith with off-ice workouts in the last week because Smith has been rehabbing an injury. For crying out loud, Smith is put together, and hes an ominous presence in the goal crease. From my take on him, and Ive worked with him one-on-one more than I have with a lot of the players, is that hes a heck of an athlete. Good for Dallas. I think theyve got a good prospect there. ---HOUSTON AEROS, BE A FAN---