“We thought eating a McChicken at McDonalds was healthy because it was white meat,” Minnesota Wild Hockey Operations Advisor Andrew Brunette laughed. “Things have changed a lot since my day.”
One of the major transformations that professional hockey has seen in the last decade is off-ice preparation, especially in regards to diet and nutrition. To help the players, who hope to one day wear the Iron Range Red and Forrest Green, transition from prospect to pro each summer is Wild Development Camp.
The annual camp started yesterday with the focus of helping advance the organization’s prospects in their ultimate goal of one day playing for the big club. Today, along with on-ice skill development with Brunette and Wild Director of Player Development Brad Bombardir, the prospects learned the how to balance their diets.
Nutrition Specialist Carrie Peterson gave the youngsters a presentation on the importance of eating healthy. The days of professional athletes surviving on steak and a couple of cold suds are long gone. Minnesota first-round pick Zack Phillips, who played his first year of professional hockey last season with the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, talked about learning how to deal with fending for himself when it came to preparing meals. That video will be on WildTV later today.
One of the biggest adjustments for these young athletes, much like a student going off to college, is learning how to cook and plan meals for themselves. Many of the players come from junior hockey, where they can rely on billet families to provide three-square meals a day. Well, turning pro means that these players will either have to learn how to cook, have a girlfriend to help prepare meals or eat out every night. But that’s what this week’s camp is all about: assist the club’s top prospects in their journey to the NHL, whether it is advancing their on-ice skills or off-ice preparation.
With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and the era of a lower salary cap, there is a premium on good young talent, and the best way to get prospects to turn into NHL players is by developing them in house. That’s what this week is all about and why it’s so important that former players like Brunette and Bombardir are around to share their experiences and advance the careers of the Wild’s top prospects.
“We’re going to look at these players and give them tips on what they need to improve on,” Brunette said. “Whether it’s stickhandling, hands, skating, strength, eating habits or handling media…if we can help them just a little bit we’ve done our job this week.”