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.

Why we should lighten up on Alex Ovechkin, Dustin Penner and Dustin Byfuglien about their weight

Alex Ovechkin, Dustin Byfuglien

Not too long ago, hockey wasn’t necessarily high on the list of sports that required hard-bodied combatants. That’s not to say that the NHL stars were all George Costanzas on skates, but when you look back at a young Mario Lemieux’s viewpoint on off-season training (not getting fries with his club sandwich starting on August 1), it’s clear that times have changed.

Part of it’s probably due to sheer hockey-free boredom, but there have been four notable issues when it comes to players and their weight. We’ve already addressed how Ryan Nugent-Hopkins should be allowed to play at whatever level is comfortable for him, even if it means playing at a sprite-like size. But what about the players who might not exactly fit into the bronze statue-type mold?

Three players have made waves (sometimes literally we imagine, when they jump into swimming pools) for getting Super-sized this summer, whether those assumptions are fair or not. First it was Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, who appeared to have a beer gut in a photo that didn’t exactly catch him at a flattering angle. Secondly, Los Angeles Kings whipping boy Dustin Penner became the source of niche mockery when an embarrassing photo of his bare beer belly surfaced. Finally, Dustin Byfuglien became a meme magnet after his already troubling arrest revealed that he weighed in at a whopping 286 lbs.

When teams hand out millions to hockey players, they want them to look like statuesque humans and/or underwear models. Yet deep down, if general managers really want to win, they should merely focus on how a player’s weight affects their on-ice play. If the book “Moneyball” teaches us anything, it’s that results should matter more than perceptions even though that doesn’t always happen. Let’s take a look at each case to see why the players’ teams should (and shouldn’t) be worried.

source: APWhy Washington shouldn’t be too worried about Ovi

The general consensus was Ovechkin’s belly was more about generating laughs than genuine concern that the Russian star wouldn’t be in shape to begin the 2011-12 season. The most important factor to remember is time: that unflattering photo surfaced in July, giving him plenty of time to work off whatever belly he might have developed during the off-season.

My only concern is that his long-term contract might make him fat and happy (more figuratively than literally). After all, it might be tougher to push that tire up a hill if you know you’re going to make almost $10 million in salary alone for the next decade or so either way.

Luckily, Ovechkin seems like he’s driven to bring a Stanley Cup to Washington, so everyone can be excused for having a little fun while ignoring their own bellies in the mirror when it comes to Ovi’s food baby.

source: Getty ImagesFacing reality with Penner

Greg Thomson made an astute – and hilarious – comparison between that Penner photo and “The Bare Midriff” episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Here’s the thing, though: Penner’s gut will be obstructed when he’s going to work, unlike Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld’s wardrobe-challenged secretary. Much like Byfuglien, Penner has always been a big guy, so it’s reasonable to wonder if he has had a bit of a gut even during the highest points of his career (like when he won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks).

Ultimately, the Kings can look the other way when the four-time 20+ goal scorer takes his shirt off because he should have every motivation to play at the weight that works for him since he’s in a contract year. Los Angeles should get what they can out of Penner in this situation, even if they need to dangle a bucket of gravy instead of a carrot in front of the power forward to get him going.

source: APWorrying a bit about not-so-Byfuglien

Big Byfuglien’s weight worries might be the most troubling of the three.

For one thing, his troubles emerged closer to training camp than Penner or Ovechkin. Much like Ovechkin, Byfuglien has his financial future secure for quite some time, so the worry is that the Winnipeg Jets might get burned by a small window of focus for an unusual specimen who developed a reputation for inconsistency in Chicago. Deadspin also posits the possibility that Byfuglien might even need a little help with his partying ways.


Overall, I don’t think teams should freak out about their players weight, although training camp is a good time to give them a push in the right direction. While Byfuglien’s situation is a little troubling, the overall takeaway is that we can all have our fun and feel a little better about our physiques when seeing these players in a more human light, but it’s unlikely that these issues will mean much during the 2011-12 season.

Dustin Byfuglien’s arrest for BWI not most shocking part of arrest report

Dustin Byfuglien

Players running afoul of the law is never a good thing to hear about. That’s why when Minnesota radio contributor Darren Wolfson tweeted details about how Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was arrested in Minnesota’s Hennepin County last night it came as a shock.

Byfuglien was brought in after being booked on a charge of boating while intoxicated and, according to Wolfson, refused to take a sobriety test. Doing that is a quick way to getting booked and that’s just what happened to Byfuglien as he was arrested and released later in the night.

Even more stunning to read was Wolfson’s report on what Byfuglien weighed in at when he was brought in. Let’s just say that if Byfuglien plays at the weight he checked into Hennepin County Sheriff’s with, opposing forwards should remember to get the number of the Mack truck that hit them.


At 6’5″ having Byfuglien weighing in at 286 is remarkable if that’s indeed the case. Considering that hockey players are always a bit leaner than your regular athlete makes this revelation all the more stunning. It’s not as if Byfuglien has ever been a small guy, just ask Roberto Luongo about that when it came to seeing around him in the playoffs back in 2010.

You wonder if perhaps the weight he was listed at as playing was one of those cases where things are downplayed in the game program to keep up appearances. Of course, bending the numbers by 40 pounds would be a pretty gross downplaying of the truth. Here’s to hoping the folks in Winnipeg don’t mind their newest semi-local star coming into camp being known as the “Jumbo Jet.”

I’ll see myself out.

(Thanks to Hockey Wilderness for the tip)