Hockey players come in all different shapes and sizes. From Zdeno Chara to Nathan Gerbe, to a more local spectrum of Sam Morin to, let’s say, Nick Cousins, every player comes with a different makeup.
Similarly, every player has a different approach to their offseason. Perhaps that’s a bit surprising. They’re hockey players; they skate, they shoot, they pass, they block shots. Why don’t they all just do the same thing in the offseason? Well, they’re regular, every day people, too, just like you.
Every offseason brings with it a new hope. Like Luke Skywalker emerging to take on the Empire in the fittingly named, Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, the beginning of the hockey summer gives each player – from the established all-star to the fringe AHL player – the chance to rise, to better themselves, to become the player management knows they can be just as Obi-Wan Kenobi saw in his young padawan.
Younger players, contract-year players and newcomers all view the offseason just as important as the regular season when it comes to preparation. Look how Brayden Schenn benefitted from a strict workout regiment last offseason.
For the older players, the ones with a known role and the superstars, the offseason is a time to recharge.
So how exactly did various members of the Philadelphia Flyers approach this now-past offseason? Which player decided to take up a new sport? Who had a dream come true this offseason?
Let’s dig in:
The Family Men
The second-oldest player on the team, Schultz is an everyday man. A father of three, his offseasons are all about family time. He wakes up nice and early – like so many of his teammates do – and gets his workout in in British Columbia where they reside in a cabin.
“The season is so busy and you’re gone quite a bit so it’s nice in the summer with the kids done school and to get back with family and friends,” Schultz said.
The Schultz’s enjoy hiking around the scenic mountains, going out on the occasional boat ride and stopping by the beach. The 34-year-old also enjoys a round of golf when he can.
A 14-year veteran, Schultz realizes he has to work harder than ever to maintain his role with the organization. He entered this offseason knowing he had to elevate his play in order to continue his pursuit of every hockey player’s dream.
“You can never get too comfortable, regardless of how long you’ve played,” Schultz said. “Everyone wants a chance to win the Stanley Cup, that’s something I haven’t been able to do so it’s something you keep pushing for and wanting to be a part of.”
An early riser, Read wakes up around 6:30 a.m., gets breakfast ready then sets off for a two-and-a-half-hour gym routine.
The most important thing to him in the offseason, though, is his one-and-a-half year old daughter.
“I hope she’s up before I’m up so I can see her before I work out,” Read said. “It’s been a different summer for sure.”
Like any father can relate to, he’s well aware that his summer routine has changed, “definitely less free time.” Nonetheless, he enjoyed every minute of his time off, often taking trips to the zoo with his daughter.
“In the season you don’t get the quality time you do in the offseason so you enjoy it as much as you can,” Read added.
A newcomer to town, Weise had an offseason to remember. His four-year, $9.4 million deal with the Flyers certainly left him feeling elated and at the same time, making him want to work even harder to reward his new club.
The one constant for him, of course, was his kids. His mornings would begin whenever his children came stampeding to his door, banging on it until he rose. That would precede his family breakfast, an hour skate with his skills coach in Winnipeg, and a late-morning workout that followed.
His “work” ends around noon, with the rest of the day dedicated to leisure and his family. That includes trips to the beach and lake. Like his new teammate, Matt Read, has noticed, Weise is well aware of his changing offseason plans since his time as a youngster back in the New York and Vancouver organization.
“I was golfing a little more,” Weise said. “Having a family keeps you a little more focused.”
The goaltender is about to be a father, so this was certainly a different offseason for him.
“It’s mainly ‘what does the fiancé need’ and how much time can we spend with the rest of the family,” Mason said with a smile.
His summers quickly went from laying poolside with his buddies to being a family man. He wouldn’t trade it for anything else, though. On Friday, he said he came into camp with a “fresh mindset” and feeling much better physically.
Aside from him and his fiancé awaiting the arrival of their first child, Mason would spend two hours at the gym from 7:30 to 9:30, hit the golf course by 11 a.m. and have a “pretty laid back” evening. He and two of his friends have a membership that gets them access to 30-plus golf courses around Ontario.
He’s well aware the golfing routine will take a hit next summer.
The Workout Warriors
Like Weise, Gordon is new in town. Before heading to Philadelphia, the 32-year-old pivot spent his summer preparing his body.
Yoga and Pilates have recently become an instrumental part in his routine.
“You need to be on top of that as you get older,” Gordon noted. “It’s stuff I need to incorporate into my training.”
Unlike many players, you won’t see Gordon with a four-iron or putter in his hand. Residing in Vancouver, Gordon spends much of his time in the good ole’ outdoors.
Last summer, Schenn sought to pack on some pounds, which in hindsight, looks like it benefitted him after his career season. This offseason, he kept a similar mindset, focusing a bit more on getting more quicker.
To do so, he – similarly to Gordon – was involved with yoga and Pilates. This after an hour and a half in the gym. Then when August came around, it started to amp up for the winger.
“You see these young guys coming in just flying around the ice,” Schenn explained. “It’s always about trying to keep up with that next wave. That’s what I continue to do.”
He typically spends his summer working out with his brother and former Flyers teammate, Luke, but the two had some conflicting schedules.
First off, this summer was a dream come true for the South Jersey native as he signed a contract with his childhood team.
“I feel really lucky not just to be able to play hockey for a team I passionately care about but be around my friends and family and have a life of my own off the ice,” Brennan said.
Prior to his new landing spot, Brennan was quick to seek improvement at the conclusion of his season in the Toronto organization. About two days after the final game, Brennan and his younger brother signed up for a triathlon at the end of July with the intention of getting leaner this summer.
“I wanted to change my lifestyle, become a little more lean and put more focus towards nutrition,” Brennan said.
A triathlon got the “ball rolling” in that endeavor. Yet, like anyone who has ever sought a change in their body, it’s not easy. Brennan said “it’s the hardest thing” trying to understand how the body works. It was a difficult task, but he feels he’s in peak condition and in an environment that gives him the best chance to succeed.
How did the fourth-year pro spend his summer?
Well, it was pretty laid back in his hometown of Prince George. He’d hit the weights four times a week. After his gym session, he’d “run a few errands in town” and would either visit the lake or the golf course.
“You take in how the year went and reflect on that a little bit,” Manning said. “I mean I’m at a point where I can’t take anything for granted.”
The winger headed back to Austria, took two weeks off where he says, “I just hang out and try to recover.”
Then he began his workouts, which ran all morning until noon. Then he and his hometown friends take up some tennis or golf. It was a pretty laid back, bro-ish type of summer until he headed to camp for Team Austria, along with his brother, Thomas, as they prepared for Olympic qualification.
It was about a week or two where the siblings spent some more time together than they had all year.
“It’s always sick to play with your brother,” Raffl said. “We don’t get to see each other often during the season so it’s always nice to spend time especially when we’re on the same team.”
The captain of Chill Town, Simmonds was quite busy on the chill-front. He and his girlfriend spent three weeks on vacation after the season, first making a week-long stop to California followed by a two-week stop to Hawaii.
When he got back home to Canada, he saw his favorite offseason sport, ball hockey, come to a halt as his buddies started to get busy with work. Yeah, even NHL players have difficulty fielding teams in intramural sports.
So, Simmonds – always looking for competition – found a new home.
“I actually took up softball,” Simmonds said with a laugh.
He grew up a baseball player before switching to hockey, so softball brought back some good memories for him.
His summer was all about “trying to find fun things to do.” Well, besides the time he says he would spend on his couch after a good workout.
- While not every player was accounted for – seven of them were off playing in the World Cup and/or have yet to report – it’s safe to lump hockey players into the three offseason categories of Family Men, Workout Warriors and Chill Town.
- Chris VandeVelde wasn’t specifically mentioned, but he falls somewhere in the Workout Warrior/Chill Town hybrid category. He spent his summer working out, focusing on increasing his speed but also spent the rest of his day at the lake relaxing.
- There’s no such thing as sleeping in for a hockey player. The typical day for a player in offseason mode is 8-12, with activities and family time the rest of the way.
- While there may only be three categories, every player does something a little bit different.
- Wayne Simmonds lives summer like we all wish we could.
- Matt Read at the zoo is definitely “dad goals.”