Ronnie Shuker is an associate editor with The Hockey News. He brought his philosophy and journalism graduate degrees to THN in 2011 and has been living the dream since. By day he mans his desk, crushing copy and weaving yarns for the magazine. By night he’s either at home or in the press box watching dump-truck loads of hockey.
You won’t recognize the name Matt Price, and the Los Angeles Kings are just fine with that.
Despite being hockey’s Hollywood team, the Kings are less glitz ’n’ glamor cool and more blood ’n’ guts tough. And as their new strength and conditioning coach, Price brings the same no nonsense, no excuses attitude that’s been L.A.’s M.O. under GM Dean Lombardi and coach Darryl Sutter.
At any given time in the summer, Matt Nichol has
three or four of his 16 NHL clients working out at his gym in Toronto. They’re a mixed bag of stars, mid-range players and guys on the cusp. Each is as unique as the other, and no two train the same.
Take this quartet of Nichol’s, for example: Mike Cammalleri is 5-foot-9, 190 pounds and built like a brick. Wayne Simmonds is lean and lanky at 6-foot-2 and 183. Hal Gill is a small mountain at 6-foot-7 and 243. And then there’s Chris Stewart, who at 6-foot-2 and 231 pounds could easily pass for a linebacker.
“You couldn’t have four more different body types,” said Nichol, who also trains Tyler Seguin and Michael Del Zotto. “They can’t all do the same exercises.”
If the NHL playoffs were similar in spirit to Major League Baseball’s, there’s a good chance the Los Angeles Kings wouldn’t have won the Stanley Cup in 2012. They would’ve had to play the Calgary Flames in a one-game showdown just to get into the playoffs and probably would’ve lost.
More on that later, but first to the matter at hand.
Pro hockey and doctoral studies don’t often go together for a player. And even when they do, it’s rare for them to mix mid-career.
As a forward with the Coventry Blaze and a PhD student at Coventry University, Russ Cowley is doing just that – juggling professional hockey in the British League along with his anticipated post-playing career in academia. He’s heading into his 15th season, and for the past five he’s been teaching sports management at his university. He’s earned two degrees, a bachelor in sports management and an MBA in international business, while continuing to play pro, and last season he entered the PhD program at his university to study consumer behavior in sports. So along with the usual physical rigors of training for a new season, Cowley has spent his summer doing a ton of mental lifting.
“It’s so much reading right now,” he said. “It’s just reading, reading, reading.”
It’s a rare for a country to take women’s hockey more seriously than men’s. Heck, it’s still a challenge to get some hockey-playing nations to take it seriously at all. But with its women’s team ranked a respectable 15th while its men’s team sits a distant 38th, China is getting serious about its national women’s program ahead of the next Winter Olympics and backing the team with some big-time money.
With the 2018 Games being held close to home in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the Chinese are demanding a strong showing from their women’s team. The field is wide-open behind perennial powerhouses Canada and the United States, and China is eyeing a shot at a bronze medal. The women finished seventh in 2010 but failed to qualify in 2014, and the country is pouring money into the program to get the team back in the mix on the international scene.
“Their training center was like the Vatican,” said Daniel Noble, a Toronto-based strength and conditioning coach. “That’s their job – to train all day. So it was a very cool environment to be in. It all comes from government funding. The dining hall is like a five-star restaurant. It’s unbelievable how they are treated. They get treated very, very well.” Read more
Sports are like sex: the more action the better. And hockey has the most per game of the five major team sports.
Yes, even more than soccer, according to FIFA. At the 2014 World Cup, the average amount of time the ball was in play was only 57.6 minutes, under two-thirds the length of a game. (Discuss among yourselves how much of that actually constitutes “action.”)
Despite its recent run of success, Los Angeles wasn’t always a prime destination for NHLers. These days, it’s atop the list of preferred places to play for many free agents, but there once was a time when it was a league backwater that had won all of bupkis and had zero NHL neighbors.
So you can forgive former King Mike Krushelnyski for not wanting to go there when his lawyer called him Aug. 9, 1988.
“He said, ‘Are you sitting down?’ And I’m like, ‘Why?’ He goes, ‘You better sit down,’ Krushelnyski said. “There was some talk of trade prior to that, and I said, ‘I’ll go anywhere except L.A.’ ”
At the time, Krushelnyski, now 54, was on top of the hockey world, having won his third Stanley Cup with Edmonton and entering the peak of his career at 28 years old. ‘The Trade’ changed that. The Oilers shipped Wayne Gretzky along with Marty McSorley and Krushelnyski to the Kings for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, a trio of first-round picks and a whole heap of California cash.
“The press got the trade all wrong,” Krushelnyski jokes. “ ‘Gretz’ went for the three first-rounders, Marty went for Gelinas and I was the guy that went for the 15 million bucks. Let’s clarify that right now.” Read more
Brad Newman sits on the bench, hoping for the tap on the shoulder he’s been dreaming about for 14 years. Just 24 hours earlier, he cried when his coach told him he’d be dressing him for the game.
The first period goes by and Newman still hasn’t had a shift. He’s so close to realizing his dream of playing pro hockey, but it’s a tight game late in the season, Feb. 1, against Asiago, the second-best team in the Italian League, and Cortina SG is in a fight to make the playoffs.
How Newman even got to this point was a miracle. At 36, he hadn’t played competitively since 1999-00, yet here he was in the lineup for Cortina SG after begging for a tryout and playing the role of Rudy Ruettiger at practice for months, with no guarantee he’d play.
Newman, who grew up in Chicago, was a nominal player at Bowling Green, where he had just two goals and four points in 40 games over four seasons. After graduating, he moved to Los Angeles and continued to play, but never anything higher than rec hockey for the next 13 years. Read more