NHL Combine 2015
June 6, 2015
Posted on June 13, 2015
As I pay the student employee at the A&D Print Studio for the final prints of a major typography project, my phone buzzes with a text. At a quick glance, I register the words, “2015 NHL Combine” and “HARBORCENTER in Buffalo, N.Y.” My heart starts racing as I thank the student and step outside to fully read the message.
My fellow RMNBer, Chris Gordon, was checking in to see if I would be interested in helping him cover the event in June. For a moment, the stress and pressure of college papers, projects, exams, and deadlines disappears and I have a chance to catch my breath.
For the second time this year, I would be able to return to my beloved city of Buffalo, New York.
I stir awake two minutes before my alarm set for 6 AM. Typical. Since the semester ended I have been waking up minutes before my set alarm every morning. But I remember this is no typical day, and I jump up to get ready for the long hours of covering the Combine.
Chris and I leave the hotel a little before 8 o’clock. When I step outside, the light of the early sun and cool breezy air of the north greet me. No humidity and only 50 degrees—such a difference from Virginia’s recent thick upper 80’s and low 90’s. I take to the familiar streets of Buffalo for a mile down to HARBORCENTER.
After check-in, we settle at the bar stools at the top of the steps by the end of the rink. Right away I hear a familiar voice call my name and I’m greeted by the Sabres Social Media Manager, Craig Kanalley. Craig is so awesome and does a fantastic job with Sabres coverage on all platforms. My favorite one is the snapchat—his shots before, after, and during games make me feel like I’m with my team even when I’m 400 miles away. Thanks, Craig!
With a few bites of fruit from the media breakfast table, I survey the level above the rink and grab general shots to start the day. As I work my way down the bleachers, I catch up with the Sabres photographer, Bill Wippert, who gave me credentials for two Sabres games back in March. I can’t thank him enough for that opportunity and getting to see all the work that goes into capturing a game at a professional level. It was so great to see you, Bill!
I feel so at home after meeting up with these great people of Buffalo, and it only makes me want to write a chapter of my life in this city even more.
The rest of the morning, I maneuver around the lower bleachers to snag shots of each station and follow as many prospects as I can. With each new view, I take note of each test performed:
117 invitees. 7 stations. 9 tests.
1.) Measurement of height and wingspan.
2.) Standing Long Jump: Prospects stand on one end of the measurable mat and then jump as far as possible.
Towards the end of the day, I was sitting with Chris and Craig
watching the last of the guys do their testing. We saw one of
them jump to nearly the end of the mat. The trainers ended up
having to move the weights holding it down so that he wouldn’t
land on them. Brendan Guhle jumped 122” which I’m pretty
sure was the record for the day.
3.) Force Plate Jump: Prospects jump has high as they can to exert as much force as possible on their way down.
I don’t think I could jump anywhere near as high as some of these guys did.
4.) Pro Agility Test: Prospects run 5-10-5 yard shuttles on a platform that looked like a section of a basketball court.
5.) Weights: Bench press and pull up station.
6.) Y-Balance Test Station: Prospects would do alternating leg reaches to either side and forward while maintaining
their core balance.
This was really cool to watch—I’d never seen anything like it before. Especially with this station in particular, I could see all these tests being translated into the game and their work on the ice. I mean, of course that’s the point of doing all these tests, but there’s just some things you may wonder how it’s helpful in their game. By watching each of them go through all of this—I really started to see the skills come together for the game and it was such a neat realization.
7.) The Bike (Cycle Ergometer Test): Prospects would start off warming up for a few minutes at an easy rate, and then pedal harder to reach a certain workload in which they have to work against for 30 seconds with maximum effort.
As a bystander, it was crazy to watch, especially with the loudness of the blowing fan and the trainers yelling
to push the player on.
See in-depth details on the fitness tests:
Getting to see this entire process in person, I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity to see the work behind my favorite sport at its highest level. I wish the best of luck to all the guys in the draft—I’m excited to see which of you will be coming to D.C. in July for Development Camp. Following the players from their start in the NHL and throughout their careers is one of my favorite parts of the sport.
See my video of my weekend in Buffalo including bits for the "Coming Soon" Travel page: