Prior to sending the players their separate for the summer, the Nashville Predators hold an end of season meeting with each one of the team members. Part of that meeting involves the coaching and training staffs telling the players where they would like to see them when they reconvene for the next season’s training camp.
With the prolonged NHL lockout pushing back the start of this season’s training camp from mid-September until this week, there may have been some concern that the players would be a little heavier than their established target weights, especially this soon after the holidays.
Sunday’s start to this week’s abbreviated training camp presented the players with their opportunity to step onto the scale.
“I got to see the weights and the body fats yesterday,” head coach Barry Trotz said Monday after the first on-ice training camp session. “It is pretty good. A lot of times, guys can put on a few extra pounds when you are not playing on a regular basis. Guys can get the body fat up a little bit. That wasn’t really the case. We had only three guys who were up slightly, not even to the point of being concerned.”
When asked if any players surprised him in a good way, Trotz mentioned forwards Matt Halischuk and Nick Spaling, as well as defenseman Jon Blum. The team asked Blum to return to Nashville to train this summer in order to help him add “good” weight in hopes of improving his game.
“Where Jon has fallen off is some of those strength areas,” Trotz said. “He is not a big player, so he has to make up a lot of those deficiencies if you will with a lot of summer work; putting on some good weight, getting his strength level higher and with that comes the power and quickness. All those things he worked on in the summer. He spent the whole summer here. There have been improvements. His game hopefully enhances the other part of it. He put in the work, let’s see if he can get the results.”
Blum is in camp battling for a spot on Nashville’s blue line. He started last season as one of the top six defensemen, but eventually fell out of the lineup and was eventually reassigned to the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. Blum has been a big part of Milwaukee’s blue line this season as well.
“Playing 26-28 minutes a night and playing all situations in Milwaukee helps,” Blum said. “The training here was great for me this summer, so hopefully I can have a great season and go from there next summer.”
Adding some weight was a goal for some other players as well. Count Colin Wilson among them, as he feels that a few extra pounds of muscle gives him an advantage in playing his style of game.
“I was conscious of it,” he said. “I was checking my weight. For me, I like being heavier. When I put on weight, I am pumped because throughout the season, it can go down pretty quickly because of our schedule. I was just a couple of pounds heavier and I’m hoping that I can keep that up throughout the whole season and keep my weight on.”