NHL Draft: Work ethic separates the best from the rest
Committed: Reinhart brothers hit the off-season knowing it’s not really time off
Anthony Findlay moves from station to station with catlike quickness to keep pace with his dedicated pupils.
The strength and conditioning specialist and owner of Level 10 Fitness in North Vancouver has more than a passing interest as Sam, Griffin and Max Reinhart as they go through a rigorous 90-minute workout.
The brothers have the same goal — to become NHL mainstays — and the challenge is to tailor programs that suit players with different physiques and positional demands.
Sam Reinhart could be the first player selected Friday in the NHL draft and Findlay will be the first to tell you that the 6-foot-1, 186-pound centre is more than ready for the physical and mental challenges of trying to make a major impact next fall.
“Athletes are not made in a certain moulds,” said Findlay. “Sam has the intellect, but his work ethic off the ice is what people don’t see. A good player will constantly get better versus one that comes in with a lot of hoopla and is great for a year or two and then just fades.
“People say it must be tough to motivate people. I see the most motivated people in the world because they want to be their best. When they get challenged, they love stepping up to that.”
And that’s the Sam Reinhart sidebar story that often gets buried. His hockey IQ and ability to out-think the opposition make the headlines and have the North Vancouver native on the fast track after being named WHL player of the year with the Kootenay Ice.
But watch him work out. He’s like the pied piper, his older brothers following him around as if they know there’s something special being developed amid the sweat and strain. And because all three came into the offseason injury-free, Findlay was able to ramp up initial mobility and then get more specific with regimens for each brother.
“Sam came in right away after his season and was keen to go,” said Findlay. “His mind is there, and it has been since he first started this four years ago. He’s always been extremely dedicated and always doing extra and physical homework to keep him there. What’s different now is he’s competing against men who have livelihoods, and this is real. It’s about doing the little things consistently so he can keep getting strong to build his power and his quickness while keeping the mobility.
“He’s already at a strength level he was at in the mid-offseason last year, and his body has learned to move and adapt.”
Run this by Paul Reinhart and he knows it comes with the territory. He played 730 NHL games for Atlanta, Calgary and Vancouver and the former standout defenceman was a first-round pick in 1979.
But today’s top prospects are cut from a different cloth; they’re identified early and exposed to elite competition and relentless training.
While it may seem like hockey lineage allowed Max to be a third-round 2010 pick of the Calgary Flames and Griffin a fourth overall pick by the New York Islanders in 2012, that’s only a small part of the story. There’s no free lunch.
“My wife (Theresa) and I have very strong opinions and made it clear if they wanted to pursue a career in NHL, we made sure they understood what that involves,” said Paul. “It’s not going to come to you or be handed to you. You have go out there and earn it in all aspects. We’re very conscious that we have three good young men who happen to be good hockey players. You want them to have character and integrity and a work ethic. All three demonstrate that and I love their determination and commitment.”
That said, there’s rarely a straight-line ascension to the NHL. Sam has all the tools and the tool box to step right in, but it depends who drafts the skilled centre and how he’s deployed. That concerns his father more than whether his son will have the right physical and mental structure to compete against men.
“I think they are very few who can’t step in and play if given the right opportunity,” he said. “The big caveat is if a player is given the right opportunity, and that’s not always as simple as a coach liking you. Walking into a team with a strong and supportive leadership group is of the utmost importance. You don’t get all the pressure and can play a game conducive to your style. For me, walking into that Atlanta room in 1979 was a lot different than Al MacInnis walking into the Calgary room in 1983 — it was a totally different dynamic.”
And so is the modern-day draft. With their seasons long over and the draft combine in the rear-view mirror, prospects can only wonder what awaits this weekend in Philadelphia.
“It’s a circus, a marketing circus,” chuckled Paul. “It’s a necessary evil and not to suggest that it’s evil, but it’s the antithesis of athletics. You don’t have an opportunity to perform.”
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