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Combine: Rigorous fitness testing next

Friday, 06.01.2012 / 3:25 PM / News
By Mike G. Morreale  -
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Combine: Rigorous fitness testing next
The easy part -- the interviews -- is over for the players at the NHL Scouting Combine. Starting Friday, they have to go through the grueling fitness testing portion of the event

TORONTO -- Now that all the prospects at the NHL Scouting Combine have completed their interviews, it's time to get down to business.

On Friday, 65 players will work their way through the grueling opening day of the fitness portion of the Combine, highlighted by the notorious bike tests -- the Wingate Cycle Ergometer and the VO2 Max test.

The remaining players will be tested Saturday.

"I've heard some horror stories about [the fitness tests] but I'm going to go into it with an open mind," Everett Silvertips defenseman Ryan Murray said. "And hopefully I don't puke."

Murray, NHL Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked North American skater, was one of six top prospects who discussed their Combine and their future during a media gathering inside the Westin Bristol Place on Thursday. He was joined by forwards Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk of Sarnia, Mikhail Grigorenko of Quebec and Filip Forsberg of Leksand in Sweden, and goalie Malcolm Subban of Belleville.

The VO2 test measures a player's aerobic capacity, specifically the maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and use oxygen during incremental exercise.

The Wingate is one of the most physically demanding evaluations. Although just 30 seconds in duration, it is an anaerobic test performed on a cycle ergometer that's used to measure peak anaerobic power, as well as anaerobic capacity. In short, it gives general managers and scouts an idea what type of effort a particular player will exhibit during a 30-second shift on the ice.

Galchenyuk, ranked No. 4, is hoping to use the fitness testing as a way to prove, once and for all, that he has regained all his strength following surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament in October.

"You want to make sure they know what kind of person you are and the character you have during the interviews, and in the fitness tests, I just want to make sure my knee is fine," Galchenyuk said. "I know my knee is fine, but to just to show these teams that I'm ready to go."

During his session with the media, Galchenyuk remarked that he hadn't heard any of the strange questions teams are notorious for asking prospects. Then one reporter asked him how many languages he spoke. Alex was born in Milwaukee during his father's playing time with the Milwaukee Admirals of the International Hockey League; Galchenyuk said he speaks Italian, Russian and English.

"Can you say 'I'm excited to be at the NHL Draft' for our Italian fans back home," asked the reporter. Puzzled, Galchenyuk looked in his direction and responded, 'Oh no, not that good Italian.'

Subban, the No. 1-ranked North American goalie, was asked if he received any Combine tips from his brother, Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.

"He gave me advice on how to be professional," Subban said. "I'm trying to make a name for myself. Some people say we're similar but I think we're different in certain ways. We're here for a reason and that's for the scouts to see us and for us to get tested. I'm not too worried about [the tests]. I've heard a lot about the VO2 but I'm not too worried about it."

In addition to the two bike exams, there are several other fitness tests that the players must go through in front of GM's, scouts, media and their peers. They include the standing long jump, vertical jump, curl-ups, grip strength, bench press, push-ups, and push/pull strength.

Grigorenko, who will not be participating in any of the physical testing because he has not yet been cleared for training after suffering a case of mononucleosis late in the season, is counting the days until he can return to the ice.

"Mini-camp will be in two months or something, so I'll be ready," Grigorenko said. "In a few days, I will start to train. I have all summer to train."

Forsberg, ranked No. 1 among European skaters, said he's taken the media attention in stride and has enjoyed the experience. Of course, only time will tell whether or not he feels the same way after Friday's testing. All five players are scheduled to be tested Friday.

"I try to enjoy this as much as possible," Forsberg said. "It's not what you're used to back home in Sweden with all this media stuff, but I like it. It's all going to be a part of your life so you have to live with it and get used to it. I feel I've handled the week pretty well. I was nervous in the beginning, but you try to be yourself and that's why I'm here. I'm a good player and have to show I'm a good person."

Yakupov, No. 1 among North America skaters, had to take a moment during his media session to pull out a handkerchief and wipe his brow.

"Wait guys … sweating," Yakupov said with a laugh. After a brief moment, he said, "Go again."

It's that type of personality, on top of his outstanding skills, that has captured the attention of fans throughout the hockey world.

"Sometimes, the media attention is good, but not every time," Yakupov told "Sometimes you need to be quiet. I like to be quiet right before games. I'm fine at practices."

Yakupov admitted that he didn't make any preparations for the fitness portion of the Combine. He said he feels like he did enough training during the course of the season and is as ready as he'll ever be. Yakupov is scheduled to begin his fitness exam at 1:30 p.m. ET in a group that includes forwards Ben Johnson and Kevin Roy, defensemen Max Iafrate, James Melindy and Brady Skjei and goalies Subban and Brandon Whitney.




1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 62 27 22 13 150 175 67
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 61 26 31 4 157 191 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43


J. Voracek 62 19 45 4 64
C. Giroux 61 18 41 2 59
W. Simmonds 62 24 18 -2 42
M. Streit 62 8 32 -4 40
B. Schenn 62 12 23 -3 35
S. Couturier 62 12 14 -2 26
M. Del Zotto 50 7 17 -7 24
M. Read 62 5 18 -9 23
M. Raffl 47 13 3 4 16
V. Lecavalier 44 7 9 -9 16
S. Mason 11 13 7 .925 2.26
R. Emery 10 10 4 .893 3.15
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