Jagr had the mullet, Messier had the Mr. Clean look, and now a new trend is hitting the ice – beards. That’s right: according to a new article from the beard enthusiasts over at freshshave.co.uk even hockey players are hipsters. Read more about it here… There are dozens of players sporting beards, and we’re not just talking about during the playoffs when it’s almost sinful to shave out of fear that you’ll upset the hockey gods. Instead they opt for a beard trimmer to maintain a glorious beard
Who has the best beard in the NHL?
Let’s find out.
10. Eric Gryba
Playing for the Edmonton Oilers, Gryba may be overshadowed by superstar Connor McDavid, but there is one area where he outshines the up-and-coming superstar – his beard. Maintaining a flawless beard, Gryba ranks 10 on our list.
9. Jake Muzzin
Defenseman for the Los Angeles Kings, Jake Muzzin sports a “puffy” beard that he keeps trimmed neatly all season long.
8. Nick Bonino
Nick may not be the superstar that Sidney Crosby is, but he can actually grow facial hair – unlike Crosby. Nick’s beard is always trimmed nicely, and he doesn’t shy away from the camera.
7. Scott Darling
When I see Scott Darling, I think of Connor McGregor for some reason. The Blackhawk player had an exceptional playoff performance last year, and sports a beard that looks like a ball of fire.
6. Kris Letang
When Kris Letang stepped on the ice during the all-star game, he looked like he belonged in a law firm ready to take on Johnny Cochran.
5. Henrik Zetterberg
Playing for the Detroit Red Wings, Zetterberg is a monster on the ice and has been an innovator when it comes to on-ice beards. Not only can he split the defense with Pavel Datsyuk by his side, but the 35-year-old Swede can mystify the competition with his beard.
4. Chris Thorburn
The Winnipeg Jets should be happy to have Thornburn sport his beard on the ice. Not only does his beard scream excitement, it’s long and thick while also flowing out of his helmet. You’ve never seen a beard like this before.
3. Brent Burns
Brent Burns plays for the San Jose Sharks, and he looks nothing short of a caveman. No disrespect to Burnsy, he is a great player, but he looks like he belongs in one of those Geico commercials. Not only is Burns a great two-way player, his beard brings his game to a whole new level.
2. Robin Lehner
Goalie for the Buffalo Sabres, Robin Lehner kind of looks like Ragnar Lothbrok of the Vikings when he takes off his mask. Not only are they both sporting a shaved head, but Lehner’s bear is perfectly trimmed and long.
And we have to give Robin a break. He has to grow his beard during the season because the Sabres haven’t been in the playoffs in four years.
1. Braden Holtby
Braden Holtby is on pace to beat the most wins in a season by a goalie this year, if he stays healthy, and part of his secret may just be his hair. The Washington Capitals goalie not only has long hair, but it flows perfectly into his beard.
If you’re questioning “why do I need a mouth guard,” you clearly haven’t been watching enough hockey. Virtually every long-term player in the sport has lost teeth when playing hockey; it is a rite of passage for many players.
And many of these mishaps happen when players are younger.
Mouth guards attempt to protect your teeth, and these guards work very well as a protectant. In fact, they’re required of every hockey player in the NHL. Coaches have a saying when it comes to mouth guards:
- “You can’t play with them, and you can’t play without them.”
You need to play hockey with them, but you don’t want to play with them in your mouth when on the ice. One wrong hit while you’re playing with your mouth guard will leave you susceptible to injury – not good.
What Mouth Guards Offer in Terms of Protection
On the outside, mouth guards are seen as annoying and unnecessary by new players. And there is no denying that they can be irritating while playing. Most of this issue comes from the type of mouth guard you choose (more on that soon), but it is also very important to know what type of protection these mouth guards offer to players of all sports.
Mouth guards protect against:
- Tooth loss
- Lacerations to the lips, mouth and tongue
- Jaw fracture
Players have been hit and had to receive several stitches even while wearing a mouth guard. If these players weren’t wearing a mouth guard, the severity of injuries could have been made much worse as a result.
Even fractures of the teeth are prevented thanks to mouth guards.
If you are a hockey player in the United States, it’s important to know that all players under the age of 19 must wear their mouth guard. The NHL has their own mouth guard rules in place.
In the event that you’re caught without a mouth guard, you can receive a penalty, causing your team to be down a player.
Choosing a Mouth Guard
Professional players will work with a dentist to create a custom mouth guard for play. These guards are far superior to what most players will wear because they allow for:
- An easier time talking, which is essential in any sport
- An easier time breathing
- Ideal comfort
- A proper fit that doesn’t slide or fall out
When choosing a mouth guard, a custom fit option is always best. If this option is outside of your price range, you can choose a “boil and bite” option. These mouth guards literally have a person boil them and bite into them so that they mold to the wearer’s teeth. It’s an inexpensive method that works great.
Ready-made guards are the cheapest, but they’re also the least comfortable. When the item is ready-made, it won’t fit your bite properly and may fall out of the mouth during play. You’ll also suffer from a harder time breathing or communicating, which isn’t an ideal situation.
If you play any contact sport, a mouth guard is a must-have.
It’s the end of the season, you didn’t win the Stanley Cup and you want to get ready for the upcoming 82 game season. While you may not play on a professional level, this doesn’t mean you can follow the same strength training routine that NHL players follow to compete in the fastest game on earth.
Tips for Strength Training for Ice Hockey
Your legs are a major part of your experience as a hockey player. For all of the movements you’ll make on the ice, you’ll be using your legs and core for the vast majority of the speed you bring to the ice.
A sample leg workout would be something like this:
As a hockey player, you probably won’t spend 20 out of 60 minutes on the ice unless you’re a top defenseman. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to build up your stamina. You will be focusing on 3 sets of 10 – 12 reps for most exercise versus trying to go the “higher weight, lesser rep” route that strength training requires.
Upper Body Training
You don’t shoot the puck like Zdeno Chara by neglecting your upper body. You need to also work on your upper body to be able to maintain puck control in the corners, shoot harder and even brace for a body check.
A few of the upper body exercises you should be doing include:
These are just some of the exercises you’ll want to focus on while in the gym. But the best-of-the-best athletes know that there is a lot more they should be doing to gain that competitive edge on the competition.
A few of the more advanced training methods that some of the world’s elite hockey players are doing, include:
- Sled Drag – a very intense workout that will work the quads, butt, hamstrings, abs and lower back. This exercise can also be done laterally to work the knees and hips. You can even do cross over drags to make the workout more intense.
- Sled Push – another very intense workout. The sled push allows you to build power in your calves, hamstrings and quads. You’ll also be working your hip flexors and muscles that would otherwise go unused via isolation workouts.
- Running Springs – a great way to boost acceleration on the ice. Running sprints can boost stamina and speed.
There are also other exercises you’ll want to incorporate to help with your explosiveness as a hockey player. A few exercises to consider are:
If you ever watch hockey, you’ll notice that when a player is coming back from an injury, they’re always on the exercise bike. It happens with each and every hockey player from the best-of-the-best to the 4th liner that sees just a few minutes of ice time a game. Don’t discredit the valuable exercise bike in your gym or any cardiovascular equipment that will extend your performance on the ice.
You need to train hard to be the best hockey player you can be. Many people believe that they need to be able to perform at their highest level for 60 minutes a game, but this is absolutely wrong.
And while you may read that shifts can last up to 80 seconds, this is not ideal. Most coaches, in an ideal world, want their player’s shifts to last just 45 seconds. The 2016 hockey season has some interesting data that correlates with these figures:
- Erik Karlsson averages 64.8 seconds a shift
- Brent Burns averages 56.4 seconds a shift
- Derek Grant averages 34.8 seconds a shift
What does this data show you? The highest average shift goes to Erik Karlsson, a defender for Ottawa. The shortest shifts are taken by Derek Grant, a Flames player. The average shift among all players is 44 seconds.
All of this data concludes that you need to be able to offer bursts of energy on the rink. With 4 lines rotating (evenly in the ideal world), you’ll have 132 seconds off the ice before your next shift begins, or roughly 2 minutes. Keep in mind that you’ll also have to account for stoppage of play and situations that may be more demanding, such as a penalty kill when the best defense players will have their shifts extended.
If you want to train to be a better player, you’ll want to look at two things: aerobic capacity and muscle strength.
Muscle strength is important to today’s athletes, but they’re training for functional and burst movements rather than definition. Hypertrophy training is ideal for most hockey players. A good example of this would be:
- Weight loads of 70 – 85% of the person’s one rep maximum
- 3 – 6 sets per exercise
- Moderate to heavy loads
- Reps of 6 – 12, depending on the weight
Hockey players will also want to focus on different muscle groups than other sport athletes:
- Forearm stretch is worked on to boost shot power
- Chest is worked on
- Legs and back are worked on
- Hip muscles are exercised
You’ll also see many hockey players doing pulls to gain functional strength or doing lateral box jumps. Core exercises should also be an integral part of your routine. Keep in mind you’re trying to gain functional strength and not bulk.
Aerobics builds stamina, and skating sprints are a great way to boost endurance. You’ll find many NHL players riding exercise bikes because it’s a great workout. You need to incorporate aerobic training.
Jaromir Jagr has just surpassed Gordie Howe on the all-time points list, leaving him just behind Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky. The 44-year old wonder still outperforms most players today – even at his age – and a report of him running through Dallas (a former team) at night surfaced. Jagr wears a weight vest and runs nightly to boost his stamina. It is also rumored that he performs over 1,000 squats per day – but he has probably toned that down somewhat.
Zdeno Chara, the 7-foot defenseman puts in 6 – 7 hours of training that works on:
- Weight training
- Speed skating
- Hockey techniques
If you want to train to be the best player possible, you need to be dedicated and train a lot. A few out-of-the-box ideas for enhanced training are:
- High box jumps
- Squats and heel raises
- Medicine ball training while on a balance board (a Sidney Crosby favorite)
- Jump rope
- Dumbbell rows
The goal: train hard and for explosive movements.
Sports require you to be as limber as possible. If your muscles are too tight, you will lack full range of motion, and this may even lead to injuries during play. Exercise and stretching need to be done together in an effort to be a well-rounded athlete.
And flexibility exercises need to be part of your daily routine.
Before we discuss a few stretches that you must add to your flexibility program, it’s important to know a few guidelines that we recommend to all people ready to stretch their muscles out:
- Stretch to just the start of discomfort – no more, no less
- Tightness levels should diminish as you hold the stretch
- Breathe during a stretch (don’t hold your breath)
- Hold your stretch for 10 – 30 seconds
- Perform the same stretch 2 – 3 times
If you feel intense pain during a stretch, make sure that you tone down the stretch or stop completely. You will feel mild discomfort, but you should never feel intense pain that doesn’t diminish over time.
Upper Body Stretches
A few upper body stretches that you’ll want to do to remain limber include:
- Arm Across Chest: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place one arm straight across your chest. Pull your arm towards your chest from the elbow and hold the position. Repeat this exercise with the opposing arm.
- Tricep Stretch: Place one arm behind your back so that your elbow is near the top of your head and your hand is reaching to touch your upper back. This position is akin to patting yourself on the back. Place your free hand on top of the elbow and pull it toward your head for a deeper stretch, and hold the position.
- Shoulder and Chest Stretch: In a standing or kneeling position, clasp your hands together behind your back and extend them out. Raise your hands as high as possible behind your back while leaning forward.
All of these moves will stretch the chest, shoulders and triceps very well.
Lower Body Stretches
The lower body has a lot of tight areas (ahem, hamstrings) and these areas need to be as loose as possible no matter what sport you’re playing. A few go-to stretches for the lower body, include:
- Glute Stretch: A glute stretch requires you to sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend one knee to your chest and place the foot on the opposite side of the bent knee. Twist the torso to the outer part of the bent knee using your knee and elbow to go into a deep twist.
- Adductor Stretch: The groin is often very tight. You can try doing seated or standing splits (as far as you can go), or you can stand with your feet as wide as possible and lean to one side, leaving one knee straight and one bent deeply at the knee.
- Hamstring Stretches: Keeping your feet close together, and bend forward as deep as you can with your knees straight. You can also do this on the floor with one knee bent to the side and one straight while stretching to your toes.
- Quadriceps Stretch: Stand straight up with one foot bent behind you. Reach back to grab the bent foot, and pull your heel to your butt.
- Calf Stretch: Place your hands against a wall with one foot forward and one 18” apart behind it. Push against the wall while keeping the back leg straight and your heel flush with the floor to feel a stretch.
If you follow all of these exercises, you’ll be able to reach peak performance out on the field.