When did conditioning start?

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Randomtask68, Oct 15, 2013.

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  1. Randomtask68

    Randomtask68 Registered User

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    Just wondering when NHL teams started seriously holding their players accountable for off ice and off season training and conditioning. I was thinking about the 1972 Summit Series and how the NHLers hadn't really trained or skated before the series, at least not seriously, and the Soviet speed and endurance surprised them.
     
  2. Canadiens1958

    Canadiens1958 Registered User

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    1965

    At least as early as the summer of 1965:

    http://hfboards.mandatory.com/showthread.php?t=1500291
     
  3. jkrx

    jkrx Registered User

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    Earlier then that. Coaches would blast anyone who didn't come back in shape in the '50s. Young players who didn't take it seriously ended up playing AHL hockey for the rest of their lives if they didn't commit to working out off-ice.
     
  4. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    ^^^ Ya, Head there with some science to the issue of conditioning. Meanwhile in Toronto Imlach's threshold was that players not be more than 7lbs overweight when reporting to Training Camp and be capable of completing 20 Push-Up's, 20 Sit-Up's & 30 Knee-Bends. Employed by the book military calisthenics on-field as well. Jumping-Jacks n' whatnot ... oh, and "golf". Be sure to bring your clubs.... then he'd just skate the guys to death & wouldnt stop through the season practice after practice after practice.
     
  5. thom

    thom Registered User

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    Watch dvd Video one more time released in Quebec about life of Guy Lafleur a couple of yrs back.In 1969 they showed him bench pressing weights on a regular basis.In 1974 Lafleur had a 8 km track built around his house.Again educate your selves dont go by gossip.Thats why Im here for.1976 Canada cup according to team Doctor who were the two top conditioned players.Bob Gainy and Guy Lafleur.Go to your library and go through newspaper archives.Yes players are better conditioned on average but i can tell you the training camps today are a joke.
     
  6. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    .... :laugh: thanks thom. And no, I wasnt aware that Lafleur had built himself an 8km track around his house. I think it more likely he scoped out an 8km course around his neighborhood & area no? I mean, the cost to build an 8K track wouldve been rather high to say the least & rather a waste of good $$$ when the roads, hill & dale would suffice just fine Im sure.... and what would make you say "todays training camps are a joke"? With the advances in conditioning, measurements & everything else from diet to sleep, seems todays training camps and the players themselves are absolutely light years beyond anything a Richard, Hull, Lafleur, Bossy, Gainey, Gretzky or really anyone wouldve experienced until at least the late 80's or so.
     
  7. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    I think there are things to remember here too. Richard for example had to work not only in the summers but on his off days too at a factory. Not to say the average NHLer wasn't significantly in better shape than the average man in the 1940s and 1950s, because they were, it is just that there wasn't time for a personal trainer at this time.

    I know there is debate about how long Phil Esposito worked in the steel mill in the Soo over the summers. Phil says it was until he was 30 years old, which is 1972, which means his last summer could have been 1971. Others don't believe this story, but either way it would be right around that time. So even in the late 1960s you saw a star player like Esposito working in the summers, which left less time for conditioning. But again, Phil Esposito was in much better shape than the average man in 1972.

    I can't find a video of it, but Conn Smythe's training camps were done in a very military style way. This would be even back in the 1930s. So yeah, players were pushed hard then too.
     
  8. gretzkyoilers

    gretzkyoilers Registered User

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    So when did "modern" conditioning begin? Here is an interview with Jagr when he was with Philly on how players like Paul Coffey trained really hard in the early 90's:

    http://articles.philly.com/2012-05-04/sports/31556831_1_jagr-flyers-teammates-flyers-management

    With all this talk of players being better conditioned now, I find it interesting that Jagr is still considered one of the hardest working guys in the league and young players can learn greatly from him, yet Jagr admited it was guys like Coffey who taught him.
     
  9. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Yeah, guys like Coffey who for some reason has not has history look kindly on him (or at least those who don't want to have it look kindly on him). Interesting article.
     
  10. LeBlondeDemon10

    LeBlondeDemon10 BlindLemon Haystacks

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    I recall an article from about 1978 about Lafleur that was in the local newspaper in Winnipeg. In addition to working either at his father's mill? or at a nearby farm, he would run 10 miles a day during the summers. I think it said he was in his teens at the time.
     
  11. BobbyAwe

    BobbyAwe Registered User

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    I think the question is when was weight lifting incorporated into the conditioning program? I think Lafleur did a lot more running than bench pressing by the looks of him.
     
  12. Mayor Bee

    Mayor Bee Registered User

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    Training camps are different today because a player needs to come in already in excellent shape. I think it was around 1997 that Mike Milbury went nuts because someone in Islanders camp wasn't able to complete a two-mile run in less than 12 minutes on the first day.

    What has changed over time is the incorporation of specificity into workouts. An NHL player isn't going to be skating several miles at a clip, nor will he be doing anything over that duration of time. The human body is remarkably adaptable, and it's entirely possible to train it to do all sorts of things that closely replicate what will take place in a game.

    An NHL player today would be unlikely to be able to do the lengthy endurance-heavy workouts of players of just a generation ago, precisely because there's no need to. A player from a generation ago would struggle with a modern-style workout, simply because what we've learned about the body has grown by leaps and bounds since then.

    Jagr was the one who talked about doing 1,000 bodyweight squats a day starting when he was 10 years old.

    "Modern" conditioning in the sense of workouts that were heavy on lifting began in some capacity around 30 years ago. There was still that whole idea of a player lifting, becoming bulky, and losing speed and flexibility that existed. I would argue that Eric Lindros coming into the NHL is what changed everything pretty quickly; he was a guy who didn't have to accelerate past or slide around an opponent, he could simply go right through them or over top of them. It's around that time that more of a football-style workout became much more common.

    However, this also mirrors a couple of societal shifts. The first has to do with the deregulation of the supplement market in the United States, which caused an explosion in the sheer size and scope of what was available. The other was a redefinition of masculinity that took place in the aftermath of the more androgynous 80s. It wasn't just athletes who wanted to look like powerlifters, it was everyone, and the opening of the marketplace made that possible in a shorter period of time. It was possible for a stockbroker to work 12 hours, then go the gym for an hour...six months later, he looks like a linebacker. I'm veering off into a different territory here, so I'll stop there.
     
  13. Yakushev72

    Yakushev72 Registered User

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    Lafleur was also famous for smoking 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day.
     
  14. Yakushev72

    Yakushev72 Registered User

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    According to Harry Sinden, 20 years after the 1972 Series, it was the Soviets who caused the NHL to take a look at how physical conditioning affects performance.
     
  15. jigglysquishy

    jigglysquishy Registered User

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    I always seem to remember hearing stories that Bobby Hull was a gym rat farm boy. The biggest thing would have been the differences between players. For every Greek god in Hull you had fat plugs on the 3rd line.

    Even now, you have Crosby and you have a Wellwood.
     
  16. BobbyAwe

    BobbyAwe Registered User

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    I always figured Hull had to be pumping iron (even back then) the way he was developed. I find it hard to believe he got that build from just "baling hay" as many suppose. Tim Horton also lifted (at least he had barbells at his house) according to Davey Keon.

    Now these 2 guys were renowned for being so much stronger than 99% of their contemporaries but now I wonder how much of it was natural strength and how much of it was because they were among the few that were on some type of weight lifting program, even if it they were doing it on their own?
     
  17. Psycho Papa Joe

    Psycho Papa Joe Porkchop Hoser

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    A farm in Saskatchewan sometime in the 40's.
     
  18. Mayor Bee

    Mayor Bee Registered User

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    You'd be surprised exactly how strong you can get from farmwork. The strongest kid I ever coached was a farm boy; he'd show up for conditioning as an example for the younger kids, but he was one of those guys who could squat or bench the weight room the first time he walked into one.

    In my case, I grew up on a crop-only farm (no livestock), but there's always stuff to do. We ended up with a pickup truck that was bought used after similar use, and it needed work done. I clearly remember that one tire needed to be patched and repaired, so I was out in the barn with my father, who has a physique that can be described as "lumpy". He'd never been inside a weight room or a gym in his life, never done any type of actual dedicated exercise since he was 15. Anyway, I got the truck jacked up in the air, then used an impact wrench to get the lug nuts off. They'd been overtightened, so it took a minute. Four came off fine, but the fifth one had been rounded off pretty badly. My dad comes around to see what's taking so long, and I point to this rounded-off lug nut. He leans over, grabs onto it, and just twists it right off. Then he looks at it real closely and says "I think we'll have to replace that one."
     
  19. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    I figure there would be a lot of physically fit gym rats that would be huffing and puffing after a day at the farm. I'm not a farm boy, but had enough experience with uncle's farms in my life.

    By the way, would people consider a medicine ball conditioning or weight lifting? Just because I know that was a thing Conn Smythe used way back when.
     
  20. Killion

    Killion Registered User

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    Medicine Ball is both as it can be used in several different ways, including whats called a "Plank", whereby you balance your toes on one with the other on the ground in front of you in the pushup position and so on. Weight training & conditioning.... and ya, back in the day before major mechanization sure, farmwork was labor intensive and a whole lot of heavy lifting. Built a dock one time and this old guy, like 75, old farmer, literally picks up a log the length & weight of a telephone pole, balances it on his shoulder and walks uphill with it a good 40yards and at a leisurely pace like it was nothing. Sits down and rolls himself a cigarette, cracks open a Labatts 50, done both in about 3mins', goes & grabs another pole. Tall, skinny wiry guy. Meanwhile the rest of us, supposedly strapping young men, minimum 2 of us carrying one of these things & wiped after a single trip, less than half his age.
     
  21. Rob Scuderi

    Rob Scuderi Registered User

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    There's nothing specific, but Barney Stanley sought to "systematize" the Calgary Tigers workouts back in 1921.

     

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