Men’s Health names Steven Stamkos in list of 25 fittest men

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Sure, he slowed down a bit in the second half of the season, but Steven Stamkos made a compelling argument that he’ll rank among the NHL’s elite for years. Apparently he already has an all-world physique, though.

Men’s Health magazine tabbed Stamkos in its list of the 25 fittest men in the world, an honor that seems to leave Stamkos a bit sheepish, according to a piece by Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star. Other athletes who made the list were superhuman (and divisive) NBA star LeBron James and soccer lust magnet David Beckham.

Stamkos might want to give Gary Roberts at least some of the credit, as the former NHL player’s fitness camp helped Stamkos and several other players jump a level or two in fitness.

Hockey players joining the highest ranks of athletes from a fitness perspective reflects the sports-wide changes in training, but it’s also probably a testament to the post-lockout pace. While there are still a decent amount of “slower” players in the NHL, former Tampa Bay Lightning forward Dave Andreychuk talked to McGran about just how far training has come since he began playing.

“Let’s just say we had ashtrays in our stalls,” said retired star Dave Andreychuk, recalling his first year in the NHL — 1982 — with the Buffalo Sabres. “There was not a lot of hard bodies in that room.”

Andreychuk said few players would even go on a bike after a game, now a routine across the league. If one did, he might even be chided by a teammate for holding everybody up.

“In the early ’80s, guys got into shape in camp. Now it’s a full-time job. The game has definitely changed that way,” added Andreychuk. “These guys have their own nutritionists, their own trainers. I think you’re going to see players last longer because of their physical condition.”

And in the same Toronto Star story, Roberts said that living a responsible lifestyle is one of the few remaining “edges” a player can earn in the devilishly tough NHL.

“That’s the only edge left — the lifestyle choices you make that give you a chance for longevity in the NHL. You can fool people for a few years, till maybe 27, but when you’re closing in on 30 and you’re not making the right lifestyle choices, the game is just too fast.”

Barring injuries, Stamkos should have a lot of hockey ahead of him – and a huge raise next season since he’s a pending restricted free agent – but if he keeps up this commitment level, he could be worth every penny. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if he eventually earns much bigger honors than anything that Men’s Health could hand out.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”