Tag: overweight

Dustin Byfuglien, Nik Antropov

Jets have no problems with Byfuglien’s conditioning

It hasn’t exactly been a great offseason for Dustin Byfuglien in the media this year. He’s still awaiting a legal resolution to an August 31 boating while intoxicated charge—which under most circumstances would be enough to ruin a summer. But many will remember that just as the legal charge made big headlines, it was Big Buff’s weight that was the big surprise. Here’s where he’s at: he played at 245 lbs last year; he’s currently listed at 265 lbs; he tipped the scales on the night of his arrest at 286 lbs.
Needless to say, there were some question marks as Byfuglien appeared for his first day of Jets’ training camp today. Not surprisingly, the defenseman took the questions head-on like they were an opposing forward:

“My weight’s always going to be the same. I have no problem with my weight. They’re (the Jets) obviously happy with my weight, I just got done (his physical).”

Then again, would you tell a 6’5” man, who weighs 286 lbs and is known for his strength that he’s overweight? No thank you.

More significant that Byfuglien’s comments were the remarks from the rest of the people within the organization. To a man, none of his coaches or teammates had anything negative to say about his conditioning—or anything else relating to Byfuglien. His new head coach, Claude Noel, said that he “looked great.” Teammate Mark Stuart explained that Byfuglien will always be a big guy if he wants to remain effective because of the style of game he plays.

The most telling comments came from Jets’ captain Andrew Ladd. This is his third city with the talented blueliner and he has a good grasp on Byfuglien, his conditioning, and the media’s response. From NHL.com:

“I think it’s something people have liked to talk about since he was in Chicago,” Ladd said. “He looks the same to me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a problem with Buff, fitness-wise.

“You look at him and maybe think one thing, but you see him on the ice and see what he does at his size, and the speed that he has and what he can do, and it has never been a problem for me. He looks good, and once he gets on the ice, you’ll see what he can do.”

For anyone who has ever been a member of a team, it’s good to see his teammates have his back. The next step will be for Byfuglien to prove them right on the ice. No one is going to remember any of the positive comments on the first day of training camp if he looks sluggish throughout the preseason.

There’s no questioning that Byfuglien is a big guy who plays a physical style of game. He’s naturally big—which works because of his style of play that has made him an effective NHL player. But as people in Chicago will tell you, Byfuglien’s biggest challenges (and periods of inconsistency) occurred when he was the most overweight. He’ll need to find the healthy balance between big player who has a towering physical presence and the guy who isn’t in shape to play at the NHL level.

He says he’s fine. His team says that he’s fine. We’ll find out when the team steps onto the ice and he shows what he can do. As they say, the proof is in the pudding. No pun intended.

Overweight Ovechkin? Not so much says team strength and conditioning coach

Alex Ovechkin

It’s a cliché that a picture is worth a thousand words and in Alex Ovechkin’s case, a screen cap from a video on the Capitals website resulted in a few words that all had to do with him appearing to be overweight. With Alex relaxing in a chair in a regular t-shirt, the Internet went wild thinking that Ovechkin took to getting over losing in the second round of the playoffs to Tampa Bay with an all deep-fried diet.

As can happen sometimes, all is not as it appeared to be and while some are still grabbing the low-hanging fruit and picking on Ovechkin for being overweight, it turns out that’s not even close to being true. CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley spoke with the Capitals’ strength and conditioning coach, Mark Nemish, and finds out that Ovechkin isn’t overweight at all.

“I already know he’s in shape. I can tell,” Nemish said Monday. “We’ve worked several times on the ice,  and without a doubt he’s in the best shape I’ve ever seen him.”

At 225 pounds, Ovechkin has reported to training camp nine pounds lighter than last year and said last week he dedicated his off-season to being leaner and stronger. Nemish, for one, has noticed.

“I wouldn’t say there were big philosophical changes, there was probably more of a change in timing,” Nemish said. “His commitment has been much more involved at an earlier time.

“He has more under his belt in terms of when he started to train. All I can tell you is that what he has done this summer – the more time he has put in – certainly has paid off and he’s ready to go at a much quicker rate than he’s had in the past.”

A lighter, quicker Ovechkin sounds like a scarier, more terrifying version of one of the best players in the world. With everything that Ovechkin is doing this offseason from changing when he starts training in the offseason to even showing up to participate in drills with the rookies during their camp. Seeing your team’s best player taking things very seriously and preparing for the season in this way is visibly encouraging. If it all turns into big results during the season and in the playoffs, it’ll help make Ovechkin’s legend in Washington grow to extreme proportions.

For Ovechkin and the Capitals, they’re hoping that by slimming down and getting in better shape it’ll translate into seeing Ovechkin’s goal numbers go back to the levels we’ve seen in previous years. While Ovechkin scored 32 goals last season and led the Capitals once again, it was the lowest mark of his career by 14 goals. The Caps have been spoiled by Ovechkin’s production but getting back above the 40-goal barrier would help the Caps out immensely.

We’ll have to see if the new, slimmed down Ovechkin can be the wrecking ball of offense that he’s made out to be.

Alex Ovechkin calls his body ‘perfect,’ signs endorsement deal with Bauer

Alex Ovechkin

While many justifiably blamed his perceived beer belly at least partially on bad posture, it was still easy to be a bit concerned about Alex Ovechkin’s physical condition during this off-season. That being said, even if those images were as bad as they looked, they surfaced in July – giving Ovechkin plenty of time to sand that supposed gut down into a bump (at worst). Ultimately, I think that Washington Capitals shouldn’t be too concerned with their superstar captain’s fitness level.

Apparently Ovechkin agrees that everything will be OK. When asked about his weight, he told reporters that his “body is perfect right now.” If you take his comments at face value, then it might be safe to believe that Ovechkin will return to the beast-like form he exhibited in each of his seasons before (a notably unlucky) 2010-11 season. Here’s the full quote from Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com.

“People were a little bit scared about what happened to my body, but my body is perfect right now,” Ovechkin told reporters after announcing a six-year agreement with Bauer Hockey. “It was interesting for me because that’s never happened to me, people saying I’m in bad shape.”

While Mr. Big candy bars might be a bit obscure to American chocolate eaters (at least personally speaking), Ovechkin keeps adding more high-profile endorsements to his portfolio. Earlier this month, it was revealed that Ovechkin would boost Nike products. Now it’s clear that he will team up with Nike’s former partner Bauer.

There are two interesting things about the Bauer partnership. The first is more on the heartwarming side, as hockey programs in Ovechkin’s native Russia and his home-away-from-home will both benefit from donations.

To that end, Bauer Hockey and Ovechkin have agreed to donate 108 sets of equipment to the Dynamo Hockey School in Ovechkin’s hometown of Moscow. Another 108 sets of equipment will go to the Kettler Capitals Iceplex and the Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association in Washington.

One program that will benefit from the equipment donation will be the Fort Dupont Hockey Club, which was founded in 1977 in the driveway of Neal Henderson’s home in Springdale, Md. The club, which now has 65 players, teaches hockey and life skills to children in Washington’s poorest districts.

As Gormley points out, the goal isn’t just to benefit others with free equipment. Ovechkin seemed to quietly struggle with his previous skates and sticks, which means that the endorsement changes might not be for money-related reasons alone.

Ovechkin hopes his switch to Bauer produces more than just good will. Notorious for breaking sticks like toothpicks, Ovechkin is counting on Bauer to provide him with a sturdier product, which in turn should produce more goals.

“He’s been trying his hardest to break a stick and so far they seem to be indestructible,” Leonsis said, “and that makes us all smile.”

As long as he’s healthy, Ovechkin should have a much better campaign in 2011-12 by the law of averages alone. Most hockey players would consider selling their souls for a 32-goal, 85-point season, but for a phenom like Ovechkin, it was a down year. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, though; Ovechkin took 367 shots in 10-11, just one less than in 09-10. He just wasn’t getting the bounces that went his way for most of his career. Ovechkin connected on just 8.7 percent of shots, well below his career average of 11.9 percent.

The change in equipment will probably only make a subtle difference, if any at all. Yet if he feels more confident shooting with different sticks – and gets the bounces he should – then it’s easy to picture a 40+ or even 50+ goal season for Ovechkin … whether he has a “perfect body” or not.