Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


Please visit our sponsors for awesome hockey related apparel.

In case you missed the Twitter and Instagram announcement, I have re-signed for the Bristol Pitbulls for the 2016-17 campaign and will also continue as an ambassador for Cross Check Clothing. The decision to re-sign with the Pitbulls was an easy one and it is still part of my grand plan that I told my coach when I first signed after successful try-outs seven years ago. I have set myself a goal to be more of an impact player for this season and really make a difference every time I’m on the ice. 

And for the partnership with Cross Check Clothing? I consider myself fortunate to be working with them. The guys are really humble and down to earth and live and breathe the game. The clothing that they are producing is appealing not only to players, but to fans alike. For me, I want to help expose the brand to more people and show that the apparel line belongs both in the changing room and in the stands. Plus it’s hella comfortable to wear and you may have seen on Instagram that I love wearing Cross Check gear to the gym too. I’m a huge believer in people that execute their vision and I really, truly want to help that brand grow. I don’t want to be the guy that just begs for sponsorship and then vanishes into thin air. Whatever influence I have, I want it to help Cross Check Clothing grow.

To say it has been a busy off-season would be a gross understatement. It has been manic and completely non-stop. reeniahororeeniaAs I said on the blog post about the season review, I had a difficult last season and it ended in disappointment, with not qualifying for the play-offs and being eliminated in the semi-finals of the Cup competition. That combined with the fact that I battled a rather persistent back problem for the whole season, made me question whether hockey was still on the cards for me.

The back problem wasn’t the only one that made me question whether I could rise to the challenge of another season. 2013-14 season I played through with a torn labrum and ruptured bicep tendon, which I was repaired in the off-season of 2014, 2014-15 season was amazing with winning the conference championship and play-off championship, but I battled with mental health issues that year, which knocked my confidence and I started the season not being able to play too well due to not having any strength and a limited range of motion in my right arm. 2015-2016 season was what it was due to the back.  Last season I played 17 games, out of which I was 100% for five games. That’s three seasons that have been more or less ruined by injuries and my hope is that I will stay healthy for a full season.

Last time I didn’t have any injuries or issues to deal with was 2011-2012 season, when, in light of stats, I had one of my most productive seasons offensively.

lisaareeniahoroFor those five games where I was completely pain free, I felt that I was playing probably the best hockey of my career and would’ve probably been able to do some good things for the team. But when you’re playing with an injury where you can’t feel parts of your left leg properly and every stride feels like you have broken your ankle, it’s difficult to perform.

However, after thinking about it for about a week after the Cup semi-final loss, I still have what it takes and I’m happy to be back playing for the team I’ve represented for the past six years and will be returning for for my seventh season. I realised early on that despite all the trials and tribulations I have undergone, I had the passion for the game and I was still willing to put in the work off the ice in-order to play.

One thing I was constantly asked by family and friends was, why put yourself through that again. Aren’t you afraid travelessentialsthat you’ll hurt yourself again. This is something that is really difficult to explain in words. The best I can do is to say that it is a fire inside me that tells me to keep pushing. I guess in every hockey players’ life there comes a time when the flame still burns but something tells you that it is time. For me the flame is there and at no point was the voice telling me that it’s time to call it quits strong enough. My life is incredibly busy, and I just could not imagine a life without hockey season in it.

I got back to work early on conditioning and have been working out to a program that has worked quite well the last two years. The only thing that I have changed in the regimen is the weight I’m lifting and I’ve added more explosive training to it. Without going into too many fitness nuances over it, I’ve also done a lot of HIIT workouts to really focus on anaerobic performance. Hockey is a game where you need to go flat out for 45 seconds max everytime you are out there. From all the conditioning work I’ve done, I’m more confident than ever. I’ve never felt this strong or good in myself (which also helps with the ongoing mental health issues), so the only thing left to do now is to get out on the ice.

hockeybase1One of the other areas of my game that I’ve worked on is shooting. Over the last few weeks I spent a lot of time at Hockey Base in Finland literally just working on my shots. As with fitness training, the more repetitions you do, the better you get, so I invested a grand total of €20 on a stick while I was out there and got shooting. The hardest shot with that cheap stick was clocked at 105km/h (65mph). I would go as far as to say that it would’ve been at the 80mph range if I had my TRUE stick. As a result of all the shooting work I did, I got blisters on both my hands which shows how much time I’ve dedicated to shooting. Ideally, I would like to dedicate more time to shooting and I have all the necessary equipment at home, but time is the issue.keppikasittelya

As I posted on Instagram in June, my wife and I welcomed our daughter and with my 3-year old son wanting more time with daddy, my time to work on shooting is limited at home. I mean I guess I could do it once the kids have gone to bed, but I would hazard a guess, that I would be rather un-popular with our neighbours.

The other thing I’ve worked on at the summer has been stickhandling. This is an area that I will continue to work on throughout the season. I’ve got hands as soft as concrete, so I’m no Connor McDavid but as with everything, by practicing it will get better.

I am determined and confident going into the season. My main goal is to help the team succeed and win games. What I want is to win a championship again. While I have battled injuries and found the flame to carry on playing, I am no spring chicken anymore and would like to add another title onto the mantel piece.


When TRUE Hockey unveiled its Z-Palm glove, it set the hockey world ablaze on social media. People were intrigued and amazed at the design of the glove and were at awe to the potential solution to the age old problem with hockey gloves: The worn out palms.

TRUE Z-Palm gloves feature a unique design element in that you can replace the palm of the glove with relative ease. At a recent hockey convention the fastest time recorded was 25 seconds for a change of palm. So it all sounds good as an idea and in principle, but does it actually work, or does the zip included in the glove make it uncomfortable to wear? Are there any flaws in the glove? Is it really a stroke of genius or a flash in the pan product?

We have been testing the TRUE  6.0SBP Z-Palm gloves for a few months now to find out what the gloves are about and to find out if TRUE has managed to solve the problem that plagues many hockey players across the globe.

Imagine the scene, you have broken in your gloves and they are comfortable as anything on your hands. Then through wear and tear, the palm develops a hole. You might get it re-palmed or covered up, which can sometimes make the overall feel of the glove awkward, or you ignore it and let the hole grow until you fork out for a new pair. It’s a cycle that players go through regularly. Some do it after every season, some mid season and those that are lucky, will hold out until there is no palm left on their glove before they buy new ones.

The benchmark glove we’re testing these against is the Warrior AX1 gloves as this set of gloves, in our opinion is the best in the market in terms of the 4-roll look and feel.  The current CCM 4-roll gloves provide a good feel and a good level of protection, but the Warrior AX1 is the better all-round fit at the moment and we are benchmarking the TRUE 6.0 SBP Pro Z-Palm glove against the Warrior AX1.

Out of the box

Out of the box the TRUE A6.0 Z-Palm gloves feel comfortable when you first put them on. The materials within the


glove are breathable and feel comfortable against your skin. The gloves, similar to the Warrior ones, have an almost ready-broken in feel. The TRUE gloves feel like you could walk away from the store and jump straight into a game.

The gloves we tried came with the standard Z-palm palms. The palm felt a little bit thicker and almost heavier than on some of the other gloves. However, on the flipside, the standard Z-palms do provide you with good levels of grip and the materials used in the palms are of high quality. The first impression was, however, that the material might not be as breathable as on the AX1 gloves.

Otherwise, the design of the gloves is minimalistic, but when you look at it and feel the materials, you are confident that you are holding a premium product.

Comfort and Fit:

As mentioned the, materials used in the Z-Palm gloves give you a comfortable feel. The outer shell of the glove comprises of 24mm pro-grade EPP foam and 1mm PE Inserts, which gives you additional protection as most gloves on the market use 20mm size padding in their gloves.

The inner liner of the glove feels comfortable to the hand and is right up there with all the ‘big-boys’. The gloves provide high levels of comfort without sacrificing protection or adding weight. In terms of fit, we have been testing the 13” glove and it fits perfectly well. The only real niggle we’ve come across with them in comparison to your ‘standard’  gloves is that the inner padding and liner can move around when changing the palms, which will lead to some fiddling. It’s not a major flaw by any stretch of the imagination.

What is quite different in comparison to other gloves is the range of movement you get from the thumb. We would argue that the thumb area is more flexible than in others, and certainly we felt that we got a better grip on the stick than compared to other makes of gloves.



Gloves are used to protect. That is their main job and in game and training situations, the TRUE gloves perform as you would expect. As mentioned above, the thumb area of the glove is quite flexible. To combat hyperextension injuries that are often result of a fall, TRUE has integrated a protection mechanism, the Trueflex thumb. It is fairly standard in all makes of gloves, but on the TRUE gloves the hyperextension protection is longer and sturdier. For example in the Warrior AX1 and Sher-Wood gloves, you can hyper extend the thumb before you notice that there is anything stopping the motion. With the Trueflex you feel the protection is there and you will be hard pressed to hyperextend the thumb. However, it is important to note that in any piece of equipment features such as these don’t guarantee that they are sure to eliminate injuries, but should significantly reduce the risk.

In fact, the beauty of the Trueflex thumb is in the flexibility of the thumb. You are able to get a far better grip on the stick straight away when you start using the gloves thanks to being able to close your hand into a near-perfect fist in the glove. On other gloves, the thumb is often quite rigid and even on the Warrior gloves which allow for some thumb movement, it doesn’t come close to the TRUE gloves in terms of the grip you are able to get on the stick. This is by far superior when compared to the latest offerings from CCM, Warrior and Bauer.

In terms of the other protective elements, the gloves provide protection on par with top manufacturers in the segment. Thanks to the additional 4mm of padding in the TRUE gloves, you are better off. The protection around the wrist is good, as well as the padding around the fingers. TRUE has achieved a great level of protection whilst not sacrificing comfort of the glove.


What we think make the TRUE Z-Palm gloves worth owning is the fact that you can customise your gloves with different palms. You can get the 4-roll look and feel whilst being able to enjoy palm materials usually reserved for anatomically designed gloves.

If you want long life out of your protective equipment, you do need to look after it. One thing that we did notice on few of the palms, mainly in the Pro and grip versions of the palm it can take a while for them to dry out. If you have back to back games, you might come to find that the palm area is still a little damp from the night before.

Having discussed this with TRUE, it is recommended that you partially unzip the palm to allow more air flow through the glove. We have since tried this trick and have noticed that it does indeed speed up the drying process of the glove.

Fitting the palm


The burning question then: how easy is it to replace the palm? Well, we haven’t gotten anywhere near the record time that was set at the exhibition, but it is safe to say that you can do a pair of gloves in between periods if needs be and you’ll have time to listen to instructions from the coaches as well.

Removing a palm is easy and effortless. Here TRUE has done a good job with the design of the glove as the entire palm side of the glove opens up, which helps immensely with the changing process and the zips do not interfere with comfort of the glove.

However, attaching a new palm is something that takes a bit of getting used to. The first few times of putting on a new palm were a little bit of troublesome, but as with everything practice makes perfect. The challenge we’ve faced is in the fitting of a new palm. Once you get to the middle finger, you need to ensure that you keep the zip as straight as possible as there is a tendency of it getting stuck.

What might be an overlooked design element here is that the zip is positioned quite cleverly so that it should not be easily damaged during the game. The only way we see that the Z-palm design could be compromised is by someone stepping/skating on/over your glove from the palm side and by that stage, you’ll have other things on your mind as opposed to a zip.

Overall, the changing process is easy enough, even if putting on a new palm is the more difficult one of the changing process.


In the past we have called TRUE Hockey as a new-comer to the hockey market, but in the space of few short years, the company has established itself with innovative products in both sticks and now protective equipment in gloves.


The Z-Palm gloves is something that other manufacturers and players will be looking at with envy. The design looks great, they gloves feel great, but the real beauty of the TRUE A6.0 SBP Pro gloves is the Z-Palm innovation. By buying a pair of gloves, you are essentially buying five pairs. You have greater level of customisation opportunities to you and you can try new styles of palms without it costing you a new pair of gloves. The Z-Palm gives you longevity for the gloves as you don’t need to replace the gloves, but rather just the palm. If you are looking for gloves that provide you with good levels of protection, mobility the TRUE gloves should be on your shopping list. What will tip it in TRUE’s favour over any other manufacturer is the Z-Palms. Like said, by buying a set of TRUE gloves, you are essentially buying five pairs of gloves at once, all thanks to the customisation options the Z-Palm affords you.

In comparison to the Warrior AX1 gloves, the TRUE A6.0 SBP Pro Z-Palm gloves stack up equally well. The TRUE glove could end up costing you a bit less (depending on retailer) and you get a bit more for your money thanks to the Z-Palms. In terms of fit and comfort, the gloves are pretty much equal, though we have found the TRUE glove is slightly more breathable in games and training. Both gloves use odour eliminating technologies as well, with TRUE opting for Microban technology, while Warrior uses Polygenie, and to be fair, you would not be able to tell the difference. It is a close call when comparing the gloves like for like, but thanks to the price and the Z-Palm we would recommend the TRUE A6.0 SBP Pro Z-Palms. You get a premium, top-end pro product at a good price point and thanks to the replaceable palms, you get more for you money.

15 Seconds…

Posted: May 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

Walking up those familiar stairs again. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve climbed up them. 22 in total. Accompanied by thumping sounds that emanates from the top floor, again familiar. Maybe I should be afraid of what lies in waiting, but oddly, it is part of the reason why I climb up these stairs. Time after time again.


This is where the hockey season is built. In one and a half hour slots, each one spent getting ready for something that is months away. Much like life in hockey in general, life is condensed into an everlasting continuum of routine and repetition.


The familiar grip of cold iron on the calloused hands. Tuning into breathing and the up/down movement. Every repetition is slightly painful, but that is the purpose. It is a sign that you are pushing. Pushing to get better, stronger, faster.


In between are 15 second splits where you are allowed to rest.


Yks, kaks, kolme, nelja…. As I count closer to 15 my counting turns from Finnish to English, as if to prepare me for the next series. Up, down, up, down, breathe in, breathe out. Tune into the breathing and use it to your advantage. Come one, just one more. You’ve got this. You tell yourself as the burn is getting more and more intense. And THUMP.  Another 15 seconds of rest.


This could be classed as insanity and some might say my time could be better spent, but it is more than just training for a season. It is a release. A release that is a series of up to one and a half minutes of work and 15 seconds of rest. All together it takes an hour or hour and a half of my day. A fraction.


Tuning into the sound of the music that I’ve picked… “no that’s not heavy enough. I need something that’s aggressive”.. Quickly switching to something heavier before gripping the bar. Again. Lifting the weight off the ground, making sure your form is good by subconsciously telling yourself “back straight, head up, lift from the legs”.


By the time the hour and a half assault on your muscles is complete, you are ready to walk down those same, familiar stairs. 22 in total. The sound of the thumps is getting more and more distant. You feel a bit broken. Your muscles are sore. There’s sweat dripping from every part of your body. You feel like you have conquered something and feel ready to do it all again  the next day.
Somehow as you get into your car, you begin to count… yks, kaks, kolme nelja.. A life broken into series, sets and 15 seconds. All to better yourself on the ice.

2015-2016 Season Review

Posted: April 17, 2016 in Uncategorized


Please visit our sponsors for awesome hockey related swag.

Another season has come to a close. In what seemed like a season that was going to be a good one from a personal point of view turned into everything but.

I had a great summer of getting into shape and I had no injuries to contend with. My shoulder I had operated the summer before had healed up and allowed me to train harder than I had done in years. At the gym, I set many a personal best over the summer, I increased my explosiveness and I found a whole new attitude for the game.


I started the season with confidence I had not had in years. I felt confident with every shift I was on the ice and I saw immediate results with points starting to pile up steadily. I wasn’t a point-per-game type of player, but I was contributing offensively and it was noticeable on the score sheet. I thought things were going to go up a notch when I scored my first goal in over a year in early November. This was then followed up by another good performance on the Isle of Wight in November… and then everything went horribly wrong…

To be honest, I should’ve noticed the signs in October already as before our game against the Basingstoke Buffalo in Basingstoke, I woke up barely able to walk. I got myself ready to play and had a terrible game but then after a few treatments with the Osteopath and my masseuse, I felt fine. Then 15th of November came along. I had an appointment with my osteopath and they had to send me to the hospital because they were not able to touch me without me being in searing pain.

I was sidelined until January – with what turned out to be – a prolapsed disc. I was useless on the ice. All my jump had gone, I was hesitant to go into corners and as a result my game play suffered. I tried my best to play through the pain but it wasn’t easy. Sometimes it hurt to bend down to do my skates up and a few times I had to ask my teammate to do it for me. Somehow I found the way to be successful and effective in the face-off dot though. But when you want to play, you will find a way to do it. No matter what.

My back problem ate away all my confidence. It wasn’t until February that I received an injection into my spine that


First game back after the spinal injections. I was pain free and felt awesome

alleviated the pain and allowed me to recover, but even after I was pain free following the injection, I had to sit out a week to let it take hold. In the end I managed 5 games pain free, but severely out of shape due to not being able to train properly since November. It wasn’t until the last few training sessions of the season that I started to feel that I was getting back to it.

The back issue was not the only injury that I had to contend with. I fractured my thumb, I pulled my ligaments in my elbow, I had a severely bruised shoulder (the same I had operated a few years ago) that doctors were umming and arring whether I had separated it and to cap it off, I sustained a knee contusion in our last game (or if you want to call me a pussy, I bruised my leg).

I wrote earlier that this season the thought crept into my head of whether I had what it takes to keep coming back from injury and come back stronger. This season was mentally challenging because the pain was constant and it for the first time, the pain felt unbearable and that it was grinding me down. As a hockey player, you get used to living in pain, but this was something completely different. I didn’t sleep well because every movement sent shooting pain down my legs and back. I was on so many painkillers that it was not even funny. At its height in December, I was on 2x 30/500mg Co-codamol tablets 4x day, 2x 30mg Tramadol 4x day, 1x 600mg Naproxen 2x day, 1x Diazepam 1x day, 4x amitriptyline  per night. I’m surprised I was able to function or answer people, though I think that in the main, I was a dribbling mess. Even more so than normal.

So what started as a campaign of high hopes and personal achievement turned out to be THE toughest season I’ve had to endure. Because of all of that, this – for me – is a season I would rather forget. I wanted to prove that I could produce and be effective and until November I felt like I was. For the rest of the season I was merely a shadow of what I had potential for. Which made it all the more frustrating.


First game back in January. In severe pain, but anything for the logo on the front of the shirt

The support – and concern – of the fans was overwhelming. I think many thought I was a total idiot for suiting up in January. There’s a picture of me in my first game back in warm-up and I think the look on my face is “This was a very f**king bad idea”. You can tell I am uncomfortable. But anything for the logo on the front. ANYTHING.

My sponsor, Cross Check Clothing was amazing throughout the season and I’m honoured to have worked with them this season. I hope that there is scope for more collaboration. I believe in the brand and that it is truly something that is for the players and the fans of the game and beyond. I had always wanted to team up with a company that I believed in and I really wanted to help the guys to get exposed to a wider audience and I hope that it has worked. Speaking of the Cross Check Clothing guys; they’ve just released a new summer line, so you should check it out here

So what now? Well, I’ve started to build on the fitness level I had built towards the end of the year as I’ve started my off-season training.  I dug out a program that was designed for me a few years ago and I remember it being effective. I just forgot that it is a rather brutal one, but hopefully the results will speak for themselves in 2016-2017 season. That last statement should tell you that I am looking to play on and prove that season on what I had hoped to do this season. 


Posted: April 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’ll be approaching a couple of milestones on the quest to better myself as a person, the final one that I’ll detail is the most important one, which is hell to deal with,  but perhaps taught me more about myself than anything else. So here goes…


I’ve not shaved for a year… woo… 


Please visit our sponsors for awesome hockey related swag.


This is only a minor milestone, but we – as the Virtanen household – are approaching five months without TV…. As in free-view or cable. We still have a TV. Our means of watching ‘televised’ entertainment is all through on-demand services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, NHL.TV and YouTube. Personally, I feel somewhat liberated by this whole experience. Previously, I felt somewhat chained and like programming was somehow binding us to watching certain things at certain times. Yes, you can record and watch things on-demand through likes of Sky, but it didn’t feel natural anymore.

From a monetary point of view, it made no sense paying over the odds for Sky, when the content offered by on-demand services is better, I don’t have to wait till a certain date to watch a show and I was paying way too much to watch a handful of shows that were littered with adverts. My view is that if I’ve paid for a subscription to something, I should not be watching adverts.

The effect this has had on life in general? I’m going to bed earlier, I’m no longer watching a TV show for the sake of just watching something and we are interacting more as a family as opposed to having the idiot box on. The times when the idiot box is on, it usually has a kids’ TV show on. Main use for the TV now is to watch sports… again as and when I feel like it and DVDs.

Worried about missing shows? Nah.. At the end of the day, they are TV shows and they only last a fleeting moment without giving us much satisfaction. That hour or two that was wasted can now be spent better with family.

Energy drink free:

In May, I will hit a milestone of a year without energy drinks. I used to have the worst habit on the planet when it came to these pieces of shit, usually going through 3-4 500ml cans per day. You don’t need to be a scientist to realise how bad that is for your health. Despite energy drinks saying that they’ll give you wings and make you wreck your pants because they make you awesome, I find that without them, I am actually more energetic than I used to be. Even with athletic performance has improved without the use of energy drinks as opposed to before when I thought that I’d need a can of Red Bull to get through a workout.

At the peak of the habit I was having really bad problems with my stomach and I would have the most painful shits ever. I don’t know what chemical in the drinks caused this but since stopping it has gotten a lot better.

What surprises me is that there is no health warning on these drinks and that they are not age restricted. It sickens me when I see kids buy multiple cans of this junk and drink it like it’s water. The sugar content is so high and all the other additives in them make them one of – I think – key contributors to childhood obesity. Down a few cans of this crap while you’re sat playing Call of Duty and hey presto, you’ll soon see your weight sky rocket.

I didn’t wean myself off of the drinks but stopped cold turkey. The first few days and weeks were hell with a constant headache and feeling really fatigued. I felt that I couldn’t last a day without one, but if you just stick with it and persevere that motherfucker of a headache you’ll be good. It wasn’t easy by any stretch of imagination, but being stubborn and having set my mind to it that this will be the end of it, I stuck to it.

This was the first part of my overall plan to cut out (refined) sugar in its entirety from my diet. I am making more and more of a conscious effort to cut it out, but there are still times that I fall for a fizzy drink like a can of coke (which is almost as bad as a can of energy drink). But I can’t remember the last time I would’ve bought a six pack of coke for home. If it’s not there, there’s no temptation to drink it.


It is roundabout a year now that I published a post about my battle with depression. A year on from that post and I’m happy to say that I am doing better. I’m not perfect and I doubt that I’ll never be fully stable, but I am now better equipped to deal with my moods. I have a strong support network in place and I know that on a day-to-day basis, I need a release of some kind. Without a release, which is usually weight lifting, I will have a bad day and I will revert to an angry, negative wolf.

Life has its stresses and I’m not denying that there wouldn’t be things that get me down. On the flipside of it all, I’m no longer a nervous wreck and have a panic attack when the mail comes through the post box. You see, a year ago, I would literally freak out the minute I heard the mail hit the floor. Whether it was bills or anything it felt daunting to go out and open it. I would use the back door to leave the house so I could avoid looking at the mail rather than go out the front. The human mind is a complex thing and I don’t know which wires in my brain are crossed that cause me to go through periods such as these.

What it has taught me, however, is perseverance and mental toughness. I try to take lessons from everything in life and those are probably the two that I will take from the experience. I hit rock bottom last year to the point that I came close to doing something irreversible, but some part of me wanted to hang on. I’m not lying when I say that the urge to let go was powerful.

When I look back, I am fortunate with what I have and what I am able to do. There are people out there that are worse off and the only bit of anxiety and frustration that I have I can’t do much to help and make a difference.

So there, those are just a few milestones that I have coming up or that I’m “celebrating”. I guess you could say that over the past year I’ve been on a journey of self discovery of sorts. It’s been tough, but worth every second. Even the ones when letting go seemed like the only way out.

Lately there has been a renewed conversation about the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in the wake of Maria Sharapova’s positive test result for the drug meldonium. Since Sharapova, the list* of athletes that have been caught for using the drug has grown to include:

Name Country Sport Where Consequences/Ban
Maria Sharapova  Russia Tennis 2016 Australian Open Unknown
Semion Elistratov  Russia Short track speed skating Unknown
Pavel Kulizhnikov  Russia Speed skating 2016 World Sprint Speed Skating Championships – Men Unknown
Alexander Markin  Russia Volleyball Unknown
Eduard Vorganov  Russia Cycling January 14th, 2016 Unknown
Ekaterina Bobrova  Russia Figure skating 2016 European Figure Skating Championships Unknown
Eduard Latypov  Russia Biathlon Provisionally suspended
Olga Abramova  Ukraine Biathlon Unknown
Artem Tyshchenko  Ukraine Biathlon Unknown
Davit Modzmanashvili  Georgia Wrestling Unknown
Jekaterina Konstantinova  Russia Short track speed skating Unknown
Abeba Aregawi  Sweden Athletics Unknown
Endeshaw Negesse  Ethiopia Athletics Unknown


Add to the growing list of athletes, there is also the tug of war – to put it mildly – between the NHL and WADA regarding doping testing of hockey players during the World Cup of Hockey (WCoH). As the WCoH is an NHL organised tournament, it is not bound by the same rules or tests as, say the World Championships would be, which fall under IIHF jurisdiction where athletes are tested in accordance with WADA procedures.

Further from the realm of hockey, it was only this week that Jarred Tinordi of the Phoenix Coyotes was found to have tested positive for a forbidden substance in the NHL’s Performance Enhancing Drug tests. Earlier this season, Shawn Horcoff was also found to have tested positive. Both received a suspension of 20 games without pay. Since 2007, there have been five players who have tested positive for PEDs in the NHL, but the trouble is that the NHL’s tests are conducted behind closed doors and it does not reveal a whole lot of information on the tests, to the point that the wider public could almost forget that the NHL does test its athletes.

In the wake of the Sharapova test result and the NHL-WADA struggle, Teemu Selanne, spoke out in his blog about testing, going as far as to say that all players who test positive for PEDs should receive a lifetime ban. You can read Selanne’s blog here. According to Selanne’s post an NHL player gets tested 4-6 times during the season by the league, which is not that often if you think about how long the season is.

It is rather surprising that since 2007 only five NHLers have been found to have tested positive. One would think that in a competitive environment such as the NHL, finding a competitive edge is prone to push some people to look at ways to enhance their performance. The trouble is that because the testing is conducted behind ‘closed’ doors it is difficult to know what drugs the NHL is looking for.

For example, Washington Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom tested positive for Pseudo-ephedrine during the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and was banned from playing in the Olympic final. In the wake, it transpired that ‘Sudies’ are quite common in the NHL and it is not one of the drugs tested for.

So to the wider conversation in sports: should we be surprised that some athletes turn to PEDs to gain an edge and are we too blue-eyed to the fact that we assume that one sport is completely clean?

To answer the first part of the question first – and this is based on my opinion only, not facts – no it is not surprising that athletes turn to PEDs. I’m not defending athletes that use PEDs, but I sort of understand why they do it. When you are in the ultra competitive world of professional sports, you know your shelf life as an athlete is extremely limited and your career prime is measured in a matter of few years. You can train your bags off, but there will always be that fear in the back of your head that someone else is going to be better than you. The pressures to perform in competition are huge and to add to this, it is how you need to make a living. Essentially, the more you win, the more you’ll earn through prize money, the more your profile grows along with endorsement deals.

Say you made it to the top completely clean and you notice age is starting to catch up to you and your doctor says, “Here’s this drug that will help with your performance. It’s not a 100% kosher, but it will help you perform a little bit better.” The decision might not be instant to go “Give it me”, but the seed has been planted. Once you try it in training a few times, you notice a difference in performance and then, like with narcotics, you soon realise that you need it more and more to boost your performance. Going without it makes you nervous and you psychologically you feel like you can’t play as well without it.

Professional athletes are willing to go to extraordinary measures to be at the top of their game and perform in situations that most common people would not know how to handle. In the 1980s and 1990s there was a study carried out where a group of athletes and people were asked a hypothetical question of whether they would take a drug that meant they would win a championship, but would mean they’d die  five years later. In the 80s and 90s over 50% of people said they would, but in recent years that number has dropped.

Athletes often say they are willing to do anything and everything to win, so I am not the least bit surprised that in every event and/or sport, there are revelations that some people have taken PEDs. What I do find sad, is that some sports hold their drugs testing behind closed doors. If we really wanted to eliminate PEDs from sports all sports, regardless of governing bodies, need to adhere to the same standard of testing and be completely transparent about their testing methods and number of people tested and when they were tested.

While in hockey, only five players have been caught, I think that it is rather naïve to think that hockey doesn’t have a wider PED issue. Because of the closed door policy in the NHL we don’t tend to find out the extent of it. Similarly in leagues outside of the USA, we don’t know the frequency of drug tests that players have to face throughout the season.

When it comes to athletes getting caught, they should acknowledge that they are responsible of what they put in their bodies. Like in Sharapova’s case, she said that she has been taking the drug for a number of years for a medical reason, but she did not even make her medical records available during the press conference to dispel the doubts. Her defence seems rather botched given the number of other athletes  that have been caught using the same substance.  But similarly, the substance, meldonium, was only recently added to the list of banned substances, so it is curious of how many people are currently using substances that are not on the banned substance list, but still give a performance boost.

Atheltes are willing to do anything and everything in their power to win. It is wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if many of the sporting icons we look up to, use ‘substances’ that improve performance that are not on a banned substance list. Professional sport is a cut-throat industry, where your chance to capitalise on your peak is limited. However, at the end of the day, it is solely the athlete’s responsibility on what they put in their bodies and if caught using a banned substance, trying to shift blame on anyone else – like medical team for example – is dishonest to the sport and the fans of the sport.

P.S. If people want, I am more than happy to publish the list of supplements that I use and should there ever be a request, I will more than happily submit a sample for PED testing.

*source: Wikipedia

My game-day play list

Posted: March 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

I did a post like this a few years ago and it was quite well liked, so I thought that I’d revisit the topic and provide you with a new pre-game playlist. As a throwback, here’s what was on my pre-game playlist in 2011 and admittedly, it’s a bit bland and – to be crude about it – bit pansy. 
· P.O.D – Boom

· Pantera – 5 minutes alone

· The Killers – All the Things that I have done

· Eminem – Not Afraid

· Zombie Nation – Kernkraft 400

· EndStand – I Promise Not to stay quiet

· InFlames – Dead Alone

· Alexisonfire – Young Cardinals

· CMX – Linnunrata

· My Chemical Romance – Na na na

· Bleeding Through – Self defeating Anthem

· Cold Play – Fix you.
If you want to read the reasoning why the above songs were on the list, you can see the 2011 post here:

The current playlist would scare the carp out of that list. I’m massively into hardcore, punk, metalcore or whatever you want to call it (and was back then already), so overtime, my list has gotten a bit heavier, but with a bit more meaning behind the choices.
· Deftones – Swerve City: The reason why I chose this track as an opener is the killer guitar riff at the start. It’s up-tempo and starts getting the body ready for action.

· Bring Me The Horizon – Throne: It’s not BMTH’s heaviest effort or the most ‘violent’, but the chorus of “You can throw me to the wolves, tomorrow I will come back leader of the whole pack” adequately describes my mentality. There’s no giving up.

· Miss May I – Hey Mister: It’s heavy and has an awesome riff. Similar to Deftones, it just gets everything going.

· AFI – TotalImmortal: It’s again a high energy track and one of my all time favourite AFI tracks. It was on a gym playlist to begin with, but it worked in the gym so I put it on the game-day one as well.

· Obey The Brave – I am Winter: Again, the lyrics and chorus are why this was put on the list. “No where to go but up from here…” is a powerful line.

· Eminem – Kings Never Die: When I heard this track on the movie Southpaw, it’s been a favourite for game days, mainly because of the lyrics are all about coming back and being stronger than your opponents.

· Iron Son – Unleash Hell: The song title says it all why it’s on the list and what you need to aim to do every shift.

· Comeback Kid – somewhere in this miserable: The opening line of “Trading back highs and lows, within the blink of an eye” pretty much sums up the game that hockey is. Also, the chorus of messed up, pissed off, build on it sends a strong mental message

· This is Hell – Disciples: One of my all time favourite tracks. Just high energy.

· Bleeding Through – Walking Dead: It’s quite a ferocious track plus the lyrics of “I will not leave you behind, but you’ve got to fight for your life” are powerful.

· Leo – Fatty Boom Boom (Die Antwoord cover): I like Die Antwoord’s version, but Leo – a crazy Norwegian dude who does a whole load of pop-to-metal covers – has really put a great spin on the track

· Lionheart – LHHC: It’s just fucking bad ass!

· The Ghost Inside – Wide Eyed: A song about facing up to adversity and overcoming every obstacle in your way

· Machine Head – Game Over

· Walls of Jericho – Revival Never Goes out of Style: “all this time, wishing our voices could be heard, now we finally have a voice and no-one says a fucking word. So let’s scream as loud as we can and make it fucking break and let nothing stand in our way!” says it all.