Tag: off-season training

Dominic Moore, Cam Ward

Cam Ward, other Hurricanes players wear strobe glasses in hopes of improving vision


If you ask me, the Carolina Hurricanes either took a step back during this off-season or their summer can be seen as a lateral move. They’re a strange team in some ways because they seem to catch fire one season and then fall apart the next; their irregular spurts of dangerousness might be explained by their top-heavy roster and aggressive style.

In the grand scheme of things, the Canes must hope to rebound from a disappointing end to the 2010-11 season by improving from within.

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’re willing to try some strange methods to improve their chances, then. Chip Alexander reveals that certain Hurricanes (including franchise goalie Cam Ward) have agreed to wear strobe glasses to try to improve their “peripheral vision, reaction time, perception and focus.”

The Hurricanes are the only team in the NHL who are experimenting with the equipment, which Alexander describes as “oversized sunglasses.” Carolina’s head trainer Pete Friesen organized the three-week experiment with Nike.

The Nike Vapor Strobe glasses, which retail for about $300, have strobe circuitry in each lens. The strobe flashes can be sped up or slowed down, changing between clear and opaque states with an LCD lens, as the players attempt to catch balls or stick-handle pucks.

“It’s just something new and creative to try and see if it can benefit your vision,” Ward said last week. “Especially at my position, it can really be beneficial. If I can find a way of making that puck look a lot bigger, that’s going to be a big help.”


The players wear the goggles 10 minutes a day and for training purposes only – they are not used in games. Some have been catching tossed balls, and Friesen also has used a JUGS gun to launch smaller balls at Ward at varying speeds.

After reading about that experiment, it might indeed make the biggest impact on Ward. As Friesen stated later on in the article, goalies often (understandably) struggle with having their vision obstructed, but few – if any – do much to train for those situations. (Beyond the obvious practice time devoted to scrimmages and so on.) The glasses might be an interesting way to give Ward that extra training in making split-second saves.

That being said, hearing the term “strobe glasses” instantly made me think of people having seizures because of strobe lights, so hopefully that’s not a major risk with the goggles.

It’s unlikely that this experiment will yield enormous results for Ward and the rest of the participating Hurricanes, but in a sport with often tiny margins of error, you can’t blame them for trying to find every little edge … even if they end up looking goofy in the process.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

Edmonton Oilers must deal with weighty issue of Ryan-Nugent Hopkins bulking up

2011 NHL Entry Draft - Portraits

While most pundits approved of the Edmonton Oilers’ decision to make Ryan-Nugent Hopkins the top pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, many believe that he might not be ready for the big time until the 2012-13 season. One of the main reasons why people feel that way is his size; RNH weighed in at just 161 lbs. during the beginning of the 2010-11 season, according to the Edmonton Journal.

Jim Matheson wonders if the promising prospect responded to those questions a bit excessively being that he’s reportedly weighing in around 175 lbs. now. It’s hard to fault him for bulking up with the hopes of making an immediate jump to the NHL, but Matheson is among those who wonder if he’s overdoing it. Sam Gagner compared the difference to “skating with a 10-pound vest.”

RNH scored two late goals in the first Red-White scrimmage at Rexall Place with one bullet shot and another quick move, showing some of his obvious magic but he didn’t stand out in the five-day camp.  Maybe we’re expecting too much from the kid? Maybe RNH would be better at 165 than 175, for now. Would that be a problem? It shouldn’t be.

As Gagner said this week, his buddy Patrick Kane was 161 pounds when training before he joined the Blackhawks. He’s bigger than that now but 95 percent of NHLers are larger than Kane who almost never gets hit. Same for local boy Tyler Ennis, who has some dazzling moves, in Buffalo.

GM Steve Tambellini is saying all the right things about bringing him along at the right speed, so hopefully the Oilers will be careful with their second consecutive top overall pick. As Matheson wrote, RNH’s perceived sluggishness could have as much do with his busy summer schedule as his weight gain, and it might just be a matter of him getting accustomed to playing at a higher weight.

Ultimately, the team and the player are justified in taking their time to gauge his ideal playing weight – even if that amount is lower than what is considered the “ideal” amount – and move on from there. The NHL has seen many success stories with smaller players, from undersized and unorthodox goalie like Tim Thomas to fellow smallish forwards such as Martin St. Louis and Kane. Talent and drive ultimately matter more than a player’s dimensions.

Don’t get me wrong; Nugent-Hopkins is justified in trying to add some weight to his frame, but if it comes at the cost of his elusiveness or confidence, then he should drop back to a more comfortable level. It just seems like sports teams occasionally make the mistake of asking an athlete to make fundamental changes to their game after they’ve had success for years; just look at how seemingly every NFL team messes with a quarterback’s mechanics in their 20’s. That way of thinking doesn’t have the greatest success rate.

In the end it’s up to the Oilers and RNH to handle this situation properly. If they find the right balance, the Oilers might just be on a similar track as teams like Kane’s Chicago Blackhawks, a franchise that went from the NHL’s cellar to becoming an elite squad full of talented young players.