Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fittest Flame of all?
Surprise! It’s not captain Mark Giordano ... it’s Michael Frolik
There’s nothing like some friendly competition to start the National Hockey League season.
The Calgary Flames released the results of their annual fitness testing on Saturday, and, to the initial shock of many, Mark Giordano was not the fittest player to start training camp. Cue the dramatic music. Instead, it was Flames winger Michael Frolik that earned the overall title of ’Fittest Flame’ and bested the captain, who finished second while Garnet Hathaway finished third.
Good news for all, of course.
But Glen Gulutzan cautioned a deeper look into the numbers.
“I wouldn’t go too far with that one,” warned the Flames head coach. “If you look at Gio, his numbers are all up from last year. They’re not down. They’re up. Fro didn’t test last year because of the World Cup.
“And there’s still some debate — some good hockey debate — about the tests because they’re all weighted differently.
“Gio won a lot of the events but didn’t win the overall. So the battle rages on.”
That being said, Frolik was in no mood to brag to the media about his accomplishments.
“I just talked to (Gio), and he said, ’Be careful what you say,’ “said the 29-year-old Czech native with a chuckle. “So I’m going to be careful. I did good on the bike, and it made the difference in the final results. But I don’t really think it matters. It shows how good of shape you’re in, and I think it matters how you play on the ice.”
Frolik, who underwent wrist surgery in the off-season, said he’s 90% healed. Of course, his overall pull-up total suffered during his fitness testing, so Giordano likely had him beat there.
“We’ll see,” Frolik said. “What’s on the paper doesn’t lie.”
The fitness testing, however, is no joke.
While the players have put Thursday behind them and have been on the ice for two days already, Ryan van Asten has been hard at work analyzing the results.
The testing includes three different evaluations for the players’ energy systems: a sub-maximal test (an estimate of their aerobic capacity), a 2.5-minute bike test (a measurement of their anaerobic capacity or, simply put, the size of their gas tank) and a 10-second Wingate test on the bike which measures the ATP CP (their short, explosive power).
Then there’s vertical jumping to measure mechanical power from a dead stop, upper body strength (pull-ups), body composition testing (body fat measurement) and functional movement screen, which identifies any potential imbalances in the body.
“The physiology of the athlete doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to be a good hockey player on the ice,” van Asten said. “But we know if energy systems are up to par (with) their strength (and) their power, they’re going to be better off on the ice . . . the physiology just helps support that. Our results are pretty pleasing this year. The best I’ve ever seen since I’ve been in the NHL, so that’s good.”
Meanwhile, the topthree fittest rookies were Josh Healey, Dillon Dube and Brett Pollock.
Gulutzan reported the entire average team body fat percentage was at 9%.
“It’s hard to get better than that,” Gulutzan said. “The biggest thing for me is with 90% of the veteran guys, their numbers are up. And our young players, 90 to 95% of our numbers are up from last year. So that’s a good sign. It’s safe to say these guys are almost Olympic-trained athletes that train the full year ’round.” And they’re not alone. It’s safe to assume 30 other National Hockey League teams trained exactly the same way in the off-season and tried to improve the physical side of their game.
But how does that translate on-ice?
“We don’t know,” Gulutzan said.
“But it shows you the mindset this summer. There was a lot of push this summer to achieve that.”