Archive for the ‘ice hockey’ Category

There’s a common conception among people that hockey players are wild party animals. To an extent we are. You might’ve heard the stories of the Bruins’ epic Stanley Cup party bar tap, or other legendary tales from within the game. Or just recently how the NHL has a rising number of players allegedly using cocaine. For me, having a good time is part of the game, but for me, the parties are more or less a thing of the past.  Boring old fart? Let me explain this

I’m not saying I’m teetotal, or that I don’t drink at all during the season. I usually have a beer after the game in the pub, but I very rarely get to a stage where I would be classed as drunk. For me, hockey is about setting guidelines and being disciplined in your day-to-day life, both in-season and off-season. Perhaps that is what fascinates me in the game so much – the personal discipline that is required. I usually schedule four times into the year when I allow myself to let loose a little bit; Cup Final (providing we win), Conference championship, Play-off championship (Providing we win) and end of season party. Last season I let loose three times out of the four. Anything else to me is excess and one thing I’m trying to cut out is excess. Of any kind. If we don’t achieve any of the big wins, then there’s no partying either. 

I’m all for blowing out a little steam. We all need to do it and it is a very human thing to do. Some people like to go out, some people like to relax at home, go to the cinema and so forth. For me, going out during the season, or the reason why I go out so rarely is a conscious decision that has reasons behind it.  

blog1The first one is that if I go out, I know I will miss a workout that I have scheduled for that day and invariably, the day after will be a total write off too. If we didn’t take into account the above criterion when I allow myself to let loose and assuming that you go out every week it would mean that I would miss 104 workouts per year. That is 104 chances of making yourself a better player and a better person through hard work. In those 104 days, someone else will be pounding the streets and lifting the weight that I should be lifting to get better, stronger and faster. I would cheat myself and my team if I allowed myself to slack that much during the year.

Second reason is that I enjoy having clarity of thought. When I was straight edge, it was one of the things that I really enjoyed was that my thinking wasn’t cloudy (or impaired) and that I could rationalise all my actions to myself and be accountable for what I did and didn’t do. Now, if I for some reason skip a workout, that is on me and trust me, it will eat away at me like it does when we lose a game. No matter how well I reason the decision to myself, be it an injury or if I just need to sleep. Being hungover or drunk is a piss poor excuse to me. Sure you could train hungover, but the quality of your work output would be so diminished you might as well not do it.

Thirdly, like I mentioned, I’m trying to cut out excess and drinking would – in my mind – ruin the work that I have already done Blog2during the week. Hangover is a state, where effectively, your body eats itself as it is trying to get rid of all the toxins. That’s not to say that I only eat kale and that my body is chiselled from stone. Far fucking from it. I’m a human being, not an antique Greek god statue.

Fourth reason being – and I’m going to be showing my age here – I just do not see the point of going out. When I was a teenager and through university, I partied… I partied hard. I think I got all the ‘crazy’ out of my system.


Photo courtesy of Flyfifer Photography.

Fifth reason is that I simply cannot cope with my hangovers. They are brutal and they last for days. After the end of season party, it took me three days to feel ‘normal’ again.

Hockey is a sport where nothing is given to you. You need to take everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. You need to be able to take possession of the puck by checking opponents, you need to create space for yourself and your line mates, you need to be able to take space away from opponents, you need to take your place in the roster and so on. The only way to do that is to be in good enough condition strength and fitness wise that you are able to take everything that is needed. Nothing is given to you and it is therefore so important that you are able to put in the work off the ice, so that life on the ice is that much easier.

This is in no way saying that everyone should adhere to my school of thought. Because that is what it is. It is my school of thought and I’m not going to be pressing my views on anyone else to say that “this is the way you should do things”. I’m not judging guys who go out (except if they turn up drunk or hungover for a game). It is a way that works for me and what I have found gives me the greatest focus. It is frustrating as hell sometimes and there are times that I just want to grab the bottle and drink it all away, but then, I tell myself that I’m being a fucking idiot.

Your shelf life as an athlete – and especially as a hockey player – is limited. Your career could end every time you step on the ice. The way I look at it, I want to enjoy every minute of the game and when – inevitably – the time comes to walk away from the game, I can look back and look at myself in the mirror that I did everything I could. I pushed myself above and beyond my limits and I left it all on the ice. No compromises.

I only wish that I would’ve realised all of this when I was younger, but I am happy that I HAVE realised it. This journey in hockey, fitness and self discovery has been truly amazing and long may it continue.

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The British Journal of Sports Medicine recently published a story to say that unhealthy eating is a key cause to obesity. I’m surprised that it has taken this long for doctors to come out and say it. The study dispels the fact that as long as you exercise you can eat whatever you want, which to be honest sounded like total bullshit when it was first announced. The main gripe I have with the study, or rather the way it was reported, was that the headlines lead you to believe that  just by eating healthy, you could get away with doing no exercise.

The eating habits of people in general are bad and are too marketing driven. It is every day that we are bombarded with different marketing messages from producers that proclaim that their product is the healthiest thing going, or some athlete peddling overpriced sugar water to us, with the promise that if you drink it, you will be a shit hot athlete.

Where I actually welcome the findings of this study, the scientific community has to take some blame in the way that we are eating, simply because we have been exposed to a number of ‘scientific’ reports to say that you should eat XYZ foods, whilst the studies are often sponsored by parties with a vested interest in their outcomes.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post where I was venting about the crap that we eat, I don’t claim to be a nutritionist, but I pay more attention to what I put in my body and try to avoid processed foods as much as I can. My main weakness is energy drinks, which in honesty are probably the worst things to hit the shelves of the supermarket and in my honest opinion should carry a health warning the same as cigarettes. (Then again all fast food should as well. I’m looking at you McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC etc).

The only thing I disagree with the study is that I think that healthy diet and exercise are core fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle. Just eating healthy doesn’t mean that you are going to be able to shed weight as fast as you can if you exercise AND eat healthy.

Eating healthy is sometimes challenging, well it isn’t if you’re willing to make small adjustments, but given the modern lifestyle, it is easier to go to the nearest store /café to get your lunch. Where I do want to support smaller, independent businesses and café owners, the fact of the matter is that the lunch options at supermarkets are inherently bad for you. You have sandwiches filled with sugar laden sauces and with a meal deal you get a fizzy sugary drink, a bag of crisps and/or a Mars/Snickers bar. If you work in a sedentary environment where the only physical exercise you get is the walk to the store, or worse yet, you drive. Do this for a full year, with all the vending machine snacks, the pounds are bound to start piling on. Then if you rely on your lunch from places like Costa or one of the other million Starbucks stores, your choices of a decent meal are pretty slim. There are advertised ‘healthy options’ such as salads, which on their own are fine, but add in the sauce that is included with the salad, and hey presto, you’ve got yourself another sugary meal. Also, the sandwich options often leave something to be desired for.

Like I said in my previous post about food, I’m not a nutritionist and everything I know about it is purely trial and error and finding what works for me. Due to the sport that I play, I try and eat a high protein and low carb diet during the off season and then increase the amount of carbs for game days during the season. From my personal view, I try and make sure I eat plenty of greens, lean meats and try and avoid the bad things in life, but I am only human and I do allow myself a treat every now and again.

I think what the food industry has done over the years is that it has lobbed us to eat wrong. Not a day goes by that we aren’t reading about this and that food being bad for you or increasing your risk of serious diseases. We’re being told on one hand that green tea is good for you and then on the other that it can increase your risk of cancer. What is often left out in the reports such as these is the amounts you would need to consume for it to have effect, but a headline of “FOOD X GIVES YOU CANCER” will drive more clicks to your website than a reasonable “Consuming too much of food X is bad for you” headline.

I feel that supermarkets are not in it to promote the healthy lifestyle as much as they should and still too often promote products that should not be part of a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, a lot of the ‘healthy’ range of products are something that I wouldn’t put in my mouth. If you look at it from a political point of view, it being the election and all, there’s even greater threat to the food supply if the powers that be push through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would potentially allow genetically modified foods to enter the supermarket shelves.

In either case, what I guess I’m trying to say is, eat healthy. Cut down on the sugary foods you have at home. Make sure you teach your kids about food and involve them in cooking. Do the exercise. Yes I know the gym isn’t for everyone, but you don’t have to necessarily go to the gym to be healthy as there are other ways to get fit.

One of Finland’s biggest hockey stars, Saku Koivu has called it a career today. Koivu, during his NHL career was a huge inspiration for me as a player and that I wanted to model myself after. I wanted to be a reliable two-way player, just like Koivu. The reason why Saku Koivu became such an inspiration to me was because we were both the same size and stature. Koivu proved that he could play like a big player, night in, night out, sometimes at a high cost, which lead to his injury history.


Koivu’s stature made him an extremely hard worker off the ice, which is how I wanted to model myself as a player. His dedication for the sport, despite battling difficult injuries or cancer, was immense and it was largely thanks to Koivu’s return from cancer that inspired me to take up the sport again, after I had fallen out of love with it. I remember thinking to myself: “If he comes back from cancer, what’s stopping me from coming back from a knee injury.”


As the Captain of the Canadiens, Koivu taught me a lot about leadership. Watching him in press scrums during the Canadiens’ woeful years, he conducted himself with class, despite carrying the hopes of an entire province on his back. Koivu always lead with example on the ice, whether it was for the Habs or for the Finnish national team, which I always aspired to do for my own team. It was leaving your heart out on to the ice after every game you played.


Where Koivu may not have reached the heights of the NHL’s scoring charts, he was a widely respected player across the entire league. One of those players that no-one had nothing but good things to say. Koivu was never a big fan of being in the spotlight, despite shouldering the C for the Canadiens for the better part of a decade.


There was a story about the Koivu brothers in the Finnish media which said that they absolutely hate losing and the reporter – whose name escapes me – said that Saku and Mikko are the types of players that hate losing so much, that the loss will eat at them for months and will fuel their desire to succeed. It is exactly what a great leader should be all about. Hating losing so much, you push yourself and your team to the limit so that you can win again. And again. And again.


Whilst Saku may not read this, I wanted to – in some way – acknowledge and thank him for the inspiration he provided me with for my own career, how you need to prepare as an athlete of a smaller stature and how to be a leader.


Kiitos, Saku

SuccessisbuiltFans always expect that their teams perform well – and ideally win every game – and fans have the absolute right to want success. There are expectations that teams and players need to meet, week in and week out. There are the expectations for the entire team from the fans and on an individual level, the expectations from the coaching staff.


Success is something that every player wants. For their team and for themselves. Otherwise, why play the game if you don’t want to succeed and not feel the elation of winning a game. Success is something that doesn’t magically happen on a game night. It is a long, drawn-out process throughout countless hours of work, sweat and pain. Success is built when there are no eyes on you. It happens at the gym, it happens on the roads, it happens on the bike. It even happens on the trainers table or with the physiotherapist. Success is built when you are on the ice with your team. It is built in bag skates, flow drills, set plays. It is built by countless and countless of repetitions of weights, drills, shots, jumps and miles pedalled on a bike.


Success is not something that is achieved overnight. Players can’t expect to be successful just by turning up to training and have the expectation that their effort on the ice will guarantee them success in the long run. The hockey season is a gruelling ride, with all its bumps and bruises and frustrations. What the fans see, is the culmination of all the work that has been taking place out of sight.


Success requires commitment. It requires hard work. It requires sacrifice. It requires discipline. It requires a goal, something that unifies a group of individuals to come together and work for that goal. It means leaving personal differences aside and playing for the logo on the front of your jersey and for the goal of becoming a champion.


The commitment fuels motivation and success, that success will player through a rock when it comes to crunch time. But all this underpinned by the work that each player does on and off the ice when the stands are empty and when no one is watching you.


The signs of success, are not seen on the ice in a 60 minute game. It is seen in the sweat dripping on to the gym floor and on to the ice.  

Review: CCM Resistance Helmet

Posted: September 1, 2014 in hockey, ice hockey, Sports

CCMRES1The CCM Resistance is the first major helmet re-design since CCM introduced its Vector line of helmets a few years ago. While the shell of the helmet still bears a resemblance to the old V-line of helmets, it is a completely new helmet and a first for CCM in many ways.


The helmet has a one-piece shell design and a single point of adjustment at the back of the helmet. In a lot of ways this helmet is directly comparable to Bauer’s IMS range (the old Messier project helmet) and Bauer’s RE-AKT (though RE-AKT uses a two piece shell).  The news of CCM’s helmet redesign came in 2012 Forbes article, where the company said that it would be taking direct aim at its competitors and with its unique selling point being the reduction of concussions caused by rotational impact forces. Rotational impacts occur during hockey game, not only from direct impacts to the head. These forces create a spinning effect that can be devastating to a player. Bauer first introduced reduction system in its RE-AKT helmet and some of the features from the RE-AKT can be found in the top of the range IMS helmet.


Where CCM claims it has made significant strides in research towards reducing these impact forces, it is still worth bearing in mind that – like with any helmet – they do not protect you 100% from a concussion. Like the IMS range from Bauer, the emphasis is on the reduction of the risk of a concussion.


The inside:

What’sCCMRES2 new about the helmet is its Rotational Energy Dampening (R.E.D) system. This is a series of red gel pods that are placed between the shell and the liner of the helmet. The R.E.D system is complemented by an impact pod that sits on top of it, similar to the Seven Technology developed by Cascade sport for the Messier Project helmet (now Bauer’s IMS range). The way that the two technologies differ is that the IMS helmet’s Seven Technology pods have been designed to return to their original form after multiple impacts, which reduces some of the rotational forces and follow on impacts, such as hitting your head on a plexi and then on the ice. In the Resistance helmet from CCM, the R.E.D system with the impact pods have been designed to slow down the rotational forces, as well as spread the impact energy throughout the helmet, as opposed to the head absorbing the full force of an impact (both rotational and linear impacts).


The impact pods and R.E.D system is covered by CCM’s traditional EPP foam that it has used across the Vector line of helmets and other protective pieces of equipment.  The EPP foam is used to bring an added level of comfort and to help shape the helmet to suit on player’s head shape to further improve fit.



As with the M11 helmet that we reviewed few years ago, one of the big benefits of the helmet was its fit. The same goes for the CCM Resistance helmet. Thanks to its single point tool free adjustment, you can get the helmet to fit comfortably on your head and ensure that the helmet doesn’t move away from its place.


CCM has achieved this, similar to the RE-AKT and IMS helmets, by placing the adjustment tool by the occipital bone. Similar to the M11, this reduces the pressure that you sometimes get with helmets where the adjustment is done on the sides as the adjustment is done by tightening the helmet around the forehead. Another positive from the single tool adjustment at the back of the helmet is that it reduces some of the weak points seen in helmets where adjustments are made on the side.


You can quite comfortably shake your head with the CCM Resistance helmet on and it will not move out of place. This is so key in the modern game as many concussions and head injuries happen when the head makes contact with the ice and/or boards whilst it is out of place. By keeping the helmet securely on the head, it will do a better job at absorbing the impact forces.


However, it is important to note that it will take a few times to wear it to achieve the perfect fit and the first couple of times that we wore the helmet, it felt awkward on the head, but it finds its fit quickly. (To be fair, the tester has a funnily shaped head to begin with so every helmet takes a bit longer to break in).


Once the helmet has been broken in, it is almost un-noticeable on the head. There is no compression or discomfort and the degree of airflow the helmet provides is superior to some of the other helmets on the market.


However, the biggest thing for us – like with the M11 – is the fit. Once you have adjusted the helmet to sit on your head, it will not move from its place with ease. You would have to be rocked pretty hard, or


Fitting visor/cage:

The slight downside we noticed with the helmet was when it came down to fitting a visor on the helmet. It was a fairly fiddly process, thanks to the EPP foam padding that sits just in front of the mounts for the visor. Also, we prefer to wear our helmets without the ear guards and these were particularly tricky to remove as they are glued into the foam. We understand that they are there to protect the ears from any direct impacts, but like a lot of pro-players, we prefer to wear the helmet without the guards.

We fitted the Hejduk H700 Pro-line visor to it. We had to do a fair bit of tweaking around the visor as part of it wouldn’t sit on the helmet properly thanks to the curved design of the helmet. The visor fit eventually, but it wasn’t the most straight forward of tasks we’ve undertaken on a helmet. We also tested it with the Hejduk MHX visor and Oakley’s Pro Cut visor, both of which were easy to adjust.

It is therefore worth speaking to your retailer about the best fitting visor as some visor designs might make it a bit tricky to fit.


We are not sure whether removing the ear guards will void the warranty of the helmet, so it is something that you might want to check with your retailer when purchasing the helmet. Removing the ear guards hasn’t changed the fit of the helmet or damaged the liner or pods so the helmet is still safe and secure to wear.


The CCM Resistance helmet (and other helmets in the range) can be purchased with a cage combo, so if it’s your thing to wear a cage, you might want to go for the combo helmet to avoid some of the fiddling around.



CCM has invested a lot of time into the design of the helmet, and in the process it has designed a helmet that is comfortable and is housed with great technologies. Admittedly – and this goes for every helmet on the market – it won’t prevent concussion from happening, but like its competitors (RE-AKT and IMS series) it has been designed to reduce the risk of sustaining one. One of the big things for us has been the fit of the helmet as it won’t move from its place once adjusted appropriately. The Resistance helmet is a major improvement on the V-10 helmet and definitely one of the industry leading helmets, both in design and protection.

We would thoroughly recommend the CCM Resistance helmet to any player who wants to ensure that they have the best possible protection for their head. However, our recommendation would be to tryout as many helmets as possible to find the most suitable one for your head and for your playing purposes.



  • Lightweight
  • Significant improvement from the V-10
  • Excellent fit. Does not move out of place
  • Easy to adjust
  • Good ventilation throughout


  • Fiddly to remove ear protectors (Check with your retailer if this voids warranty)
  • Check with retailer which visor makes are most suitable


The frustration mounts

Posted: August 1, 2014 in fitness, hockey, ice hockey

I haven’t been updating people much on the shoulder operation recovery in the past few months, but that’s mainly because there hasn’t been much to update on. I saw my consultant a week ago and I was allowed to return to weight training, which I felt was great news, and to be fair it is great news. It beats doing just body weight exercises, but the return to the free weight area hasn’t been as straight forward as I had hoped.


I posted a picture on Instagram of what I can bench at the moment.  Lifting just the bar is far from ideal at this stage, but I sort of understand it. I have had three months off and not loading the right arm with any weight. What is still more frustrating is that I can’t seem to get the full range of motion into the lifts. I guess those are the anchors that are holding the joint back.


It has been fairly frustrating as I haven’t been able to complete some of the exercises thanks to the joint not having full range of motion with a weight load on it, or that the joint is still sore when trying to do something like a power clean or a clean w/jerk.


I was never the biggest of guys in the gym, but I’ve gone to the guy in the weights area that is using a 2kg weight to do flyes and deadlifting 20 kg, I’m trying to understand that it is all part of the recovery process. I think the reason why it is so frustrating is because I had expected that I would just waltz right on in and start lifting the amounts that I had been before the operation.


Maybe it has only now dawned on me, that the injury that I carried was a rather big deal, if it required this amount of fixing.


What I’m now focussing on in physio therapy is to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, which is fine and I actually quite enjoy it, as I can see some progress. The least enjoyable part of the whole recovery process is the stretches that I have to do.


What I’m doing at the moment is laying on my right hand side on a bed/couch with my arm bent in a 90 degree angle. I then need to use either my left hand or a stick to push my right arm down. The pain is excruciating, almost to the point that I almost want to throw up, but it is essential that I do it, or otherwise it will affect life on and off the rink. Permanently. The first few are painful, but after two or three stretches I can get my arm below the line of the mattress. But I’d need to get it to bend good 20 degrees more. In terms of pain, that is the single most painful thing about this whole process, apart from waking up right after the operation.


But as the old Finnish proverb goes: “Onwards, said grandma while stuck in the snow.”

The summer is a great time of year. Time for BBQs, hanging out with your family, making a trip back home for a few weeks and then there is the off season. What has been particularly pleasing about the last two summers is that it has been hot, which in turn allows me to do a lot of off season work outside – in the name of resistance chute sprints and plyo ladder work.

What has been a continuing trend from last summer is the number of people that come and talk to me about my chute sprints. It’s a strange concept to people, but at the same time it intrigues them. I generally do the sprints at the park right by my place (hooray for suburbia).

Usually I have to answer the following questions:

What is that?
What are you doing?
What are you training for?

I get these questions from kids and adults alike and sometimes have people standing and watching me do the sprints. No pressure there then. I really do not have a problem in talking to people about the training and they are usually really surprised when I tell them I train for hockey. Their usual reaction is “oh but you just beat people up,” which I try and nervously laugh off. Usually I can get a good conversation going with people about it and the benefits of doing it.

What is surprising to me though is that there are kids and teenagers who play football. I admit I don’t know what level they play to, but I would like to think that this type of training would be something that professionals do as well. It may be an alien concept of training around the area where I live, but it’s a heck of a way to get into shape.

Speed chute sprints have become one of my favorite exercises during the past two off seasons, and even more so now with recovering from the shoulder surgery and all. What’s so appealing in the exercise to me is that in that sprint you literally give everything and continually tell yourself that you can go faster.

But all in all. I think I am the only weirdo in the neighborhood as most other people go to the park to play football, cricket or frisbee. You should see the looks we get when we break out the Finnish game Molkky. It’s good to be a bit weird though. Always push the boundaries with your training, whilst keeping your own goals in mind, regardless of how many eyeballs are looking at you and looking at you all confused.