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NHL Combine/NHL Draft Feature

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by the_rookie, Jun 22, 2006.

  1. the_rookie

    the_rookie Member

    When the Belleville Bulls drafted Shawn Matthias as sixth round draft pick in 2003, he weighed 170 pounds.

    Now with two seasons under his 210-pound frame, the 6-foot-3.5 centre is quickly emerging as one of the “players to watch” in the Ontario Hockey League.

    Proof of his soaring talents finally took off when he was chosen to represent Team Canada at this year’s Under-18 Championship in Sweden.

    Despite only scoring one goal in Canada’s disappointing fourth place finish, Matthias reflected on it as a “great experience.” Though he was a bit surprised with the honour of playing for his country, he made sure to make the best of the opportunity.

    “It’s something that just helps confidence for next year and it’s just one of those steppingstones to make you a better player,” said Matthias, a Mississauga native.

    “It was a lot of fun being apart of that team and I look forward to maybe being apart of other Canadian teams.”
    But this June, Matthias will have chance to further his legacy at this year’s National Hockey League Draft on June 24 in Vancouver (TSN, 6p.m.).

    But before making the step to the big show though, Matthias and the rest of world’s best strutted their stuff at this year’s annual NHL Draft Combine.

    From June 2 to 5, the NHL invited the top 115 draft prospects to Toronto. The four-day proceeding gave NHL clubs a chance to evaluate hockey’s future stars, three weeks prior to the Draft. Scouts, management and athletic trainers of each club were on hand not only to interview the players, but put them through a series of medial examinations and fitness tests.

    Matthias, ranked 62nd on the NHL’s final draft eligible list, was one of 23 players from OHL who attended. Teammates John Hughes and Matt Beleskey did, too.

    “[The Combine] was a pretty intense weekend,” Matthias said, who racked up 34 points (13 goals and 24 assists) in 67 games this season. “You meet with a lot of NHL clubs and do a couple fitness tests. It’s pretty tough; but all together it was a pretty fun weekend.”

    With the thought of knowing his draft stock could either enhance or diminish after the tests and meetings in the back of his mind, Matthias said he was working extra hard to gear himself to be in the best shape of his life.

    “It’s always tough going into a room in front of guys that listen to every word you speak, but definitely the hardest part was the workout that I had to go through. It was pretty extreme.”
     
  2. the_rookie

    the_rookie Member

    cont...

    The testing portion, which consisted of bench pressing and various strength training exercises, was what Matthias considered as a regular workout. However, there were some bike rides that were pretty killer, he said, and at the time, he wasn’t too happy doing them – they almost made him want to puke.

    But all together, he thinks he did pretty well. And after hearing what he heard, Matthias says he now has a good idea of what to expect come Draft Day.

    “It’s great hearing some reports on yourself, some things you can improve on, and where you’re at and where they think you’re going to be in a couple of years,” Matthias said.

    Prior to the Combine, Matthias worked with his off-ice trainer and assistant coach, Jason Supryka, to get himself to a level where he has never been before.

    Supryka, responsible for the Bulls’ in-season and off-season strength and fitness, has noticed Shawn’s vast maturation from a “young teenager’s body into a man’s body.

    “Shawn knew going into his first year that he would see limited (ice) at times and was fuelled by the will to want to play more,” Supryka said.

    While most teenagers will be spending hours on end playing video games and watching TV during the dog days of summer, Matthias looks it as an opportunity to get even better. “Summer is the most important time of the year to get in shape,” Matthias said.

    Supryka echoed Matthias’ words. “The summer is a great time to re-energize your focus and begin preparation for a new season and a new set of goals. Those players that leave at the end of the season knowing that they have to get stronger can’t wait until July to get started.”

    Since Matthias first made his debut in Bulls uniform on October 2, 2004, he’s not only been growing as a player statistically, but his presence and strength on-ice is definitely noticeable. It’s no wonder why he’s teammates call him “Danger” everywhere they go.

    “I think as you get older, your body matures a lot more,” Matthias said. “So, I think being in better shape and being stronger does help. When you go into the corners, you come out a lot easier.”

    In his first year in Belleville, Matthias only scored once and had one assist in 37 games. This season, he’s started playing a vital important role, as he was promoted to the Bulls’ second power play unit.

    But, it wasn’t until playoff time when Matthias started making a name for himself. He scored three times in five games against the red-hot Brampton Battalions. The Bulls were eliminated four games to one, in the opening round.

    Said Supryka: “Shawn began to reap the rewards of being patient and working hard in the second half of this season more than I think any other player we faced. His confidence level and sense of on-ice maturity is attributed to him knowing that he has done everything in his control to ensure that he is physically and mentally prepared.”

    Though he was considered a lightweight when he began his career, Matthias says it’s important for any player coming out of AAA to bulk up.

    “The guys I find that do the best coming out of AAA and into the OHL are the strongest guys,” he said,

    “You got to be in the best shape as possible and you can’t be expecting to go in (the OHL) a buck-sixty, 6-foot-4, and expect to be the top player. You got to be strong, you got to fill out, and you got to have some muscle to your body.

    “(When you’re) playing against 20-year olds, you got to be stronger than them and can’t be tossed around in the corners or else you’re going to have a tough time in this league.”

    Supryka said: “Those players that are looking to make the jump to the OHL level from Minor Hockey have to learn to be patient like Matthias did. Each and every team has fantastic resources in the way of sport specific conditioning and each up and coming drafted player should take advantage of them.”
     
  3. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Honarable Yoshi-san,

    When the Belleville Bulls drafted Shawn Matthias as sixth round draft pick in 2003, he weighed 170 pounds.

    Now with two seasons under his 210-pound frame, the 6-foot-3.5 centre is quickly emerging as one of the “players to watch” in the Ontario Hockey League.

    Proof of his soaring talents finally took off when he was chosen to represent Team Canada at this year’s Under-18 Championship in Sweden.

    Despite only scoring one goal in Canada’s disappointing fourth place finish, Matthias reflected on it as a “great experience.” Maybe soaring talents is a little strong. Though he was a bit surprised with the honour of playing for his country, he made sure to make the best of the opportunity.

    “It’s something that just helps confidence for next year and it’s just one of those steppingstones to make you a better player,” said Matthias, a Mississauga native.

    “It was a lot of fun being apart of that team and I look forward to maybe being apart of other Canadian teams.”
    But this June, Matthias will have chance to further his legacy at this year’s National Hockey League Draft on June 24 in Vancouver (TSN, 6p.m.). Whatever he's furthering it can't really be called a legacy at this pt.

    But before making the step to the big show though, Matthias and the rest of world’s best strutted their stuff at this year’s annual NHL Draft Combine.

    From June 2 to 5, the NHL invited the top 115 draft prospects to Toronto. The four-day proceeding gave NHL clubs a chance to evaluate hockey’s future stars, three weeks prior to the Draft. Scouts, management and athletic trainers of each club were on hand not only to interview the players, but put them through a series of medial examinations and fitness tests.

    Matthias, ranked 62nd on the NHL’s final draft eligible list, was one of 23 players from OHL who attended. Teammates John Hughes and Matt Beleskey did, too.

    “[The Combine] was a pretty intense weekend,” Matthias said, who racked up 34 points (13 goals and 24 assists) in 67 games this season. “You meet with a lot of NHL clubs and do a couple fitness tests. It’s pretty tough; but all together it was a pretty fun weekend.”

    With the thought of knowing his draft stock could either enhance or diminish after the tests and meetings in the back of his mind, Matthias said he was working extra hard to gear himself to be in the best shape of his life.

    “It’s always tough going into a room in front of guys that listen to every word you speak, but definitely the hardest part was the workout that I had to go through. It was pretty extreme.”

    You don't get to the combine draft until graf seven -- which is what this story could/should be about. Why not --

    When the Belleville Bulls drafted Shawn Matthias as sixth round draft pick in 2003, he weighed 170 pounds.

    When he hit the scales at the NHL combine last week, Mathias weighed 210 pounds. When he was measured there he stood 6-3-and-a-half.

    As Matthias has grown, so have NHL scouts grown more intensely interested in ...


    Suggestion: Get the combine and draft into grafs 2 and 3

    YHS, etc
     
  4. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

     
  5. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

     
  6. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Yosh -

    I think F of the F's trims are pretty much spot on. I did a quick line edit above as an exercise in identifying areas you should look to strengthen as you move into your writing future.

    I felt like this piece had a lot of air in it, a lot of superfluous stuff. I usually attribute that to a newspaper's need to fill a certain number of inches, regardless of the story itself. If you have an hour to kill one day, go though this piece on your own with a blue pencil and try to cut it to exactly half its current length without losing any of its substance. I think you'll be surprised how much can come out.

    There's one other suggestion I'd make, a more general one. In a case like this, where you've got an athlete moving up into the higher, more competitive levels of his/her sport, I'm always going to be more interested in their state of mind than in their body weight. Is this kid nervous, scared, baffled, confident, arrogant? All of the above? None of the above?

    Next time out, try to ask some more questions of the subject that reveal their state of mind. This kid's whole future hangs on the combine. How must that make him feel way deep down inside? That's money in pieces like this.

    Thanks for posting. Hope this helps.
     
  7. daemon

    daemon Member

    Here's a question that's been on my mind lately...


    When you are writing a feature about an athlete who has put on 40 pounds in three years, are you obligated, in this day in age, to address the steroid issue?

    Because that's the first thing that popped into my mind when I read how much weight he had gained. Is it fair to the player? No. But it's the first question that entered my mind, it's the first question that will enter a lot of readers mind, and I almost feel as if it needs to be addressed.

    And if it does need to be addressed, how does one go about? I ask not to single out this article, but because I read a ton of "athlete puts on mega weight" features every year.
     
  8. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    D'mon,

    If it were me, I'd treat it this way: Like the courts, we have to use the presumption of innocence as our first principle. I think in many (perhaps most) teenage cases of quick development, there's a perfectly innocent biological explanation for gaining bulk (within reason), and gaining it fairly fast (again, within reason). Puberty, late-bloomer, weight-training, whatever. This has to temper every prejudice we carry around with us about athletes and ambition and PEDs.

    So if I go out to profile this kid, I'm not looking to blow the lid off the use of steroids in Major Junior Hockey. I give him the benefit of the doubt. If he says something to lead me to the subject, of course I'll ask about his training methods. If someone else says something in the course of my research, I'll look into it. Barring hard evidence, or some confessional breakdown on his part, though, he is presumed innocent - and that particular angle goes unmentioned in this story.

    If, however, I notice during our time together that he's a poster boy for the seven signs of steroid abuse, I can do one of a couple of things. I can try to make a case against him in the profile, which is a distant longshot. I can tell my editor I think the kid's using, and the editor can decide whether to spike the assignment - or turn it into an investigative piece on this one kid. Most likely though it would play out like this - the piece runs as written, without mention of the steroid suspicion. I put this kid's name on a list I'm keeping of all the players in all the sports in all the divisions in my area that I think are using. Then, after ten names, or twenty, or thirty, I pitch my editor on an investigative piece about regional steroid abuse in sports, and make these guys my first round of interviews when I start doing my research.

    A thought.

    Oh, and as for adult athletes, I'd say the presumption of innocence still applies, but with a much more skeptical eye to the reasons. I've put on forty pounds in the last three years - and all I did was quit smoking. Which I did by replacing a nicotine habit with a fried-dough habit.
     
  9. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr or Mrs Daemon,

    I suppose it would have been worthwhile to ask about creatine. From my experience--not limited--creatine is to jr hockey players what coffee is to cab drivers.

    Steroids? I'd never say (Belleville) Bullshit ... I'm sure it goes on. Then again it goes on at any gym. The thing is, there are almost certainly more guys using Vitamin S than there are good players. (Just based on percentage numbers of teens who aren't in jr hockey and are using steroids. And factoring in that there are, what, seven draft-eligible guys who project out to real, bankable first-line status.) Of those seven, the Staal family must be East German emigres (mum, the former Kornelia Ender?) to explain why all their freakin' kids are that good and that big. Kessel looks like he's never been to a gym. Brassard = pencilneck. Backstrom = former player's son. Toews, choir boy. Which is to say, I don't really see any of the top kids getting there by virtue of steroids. S is the last refuge of a lot of no-hopers--maybe a bit more than that but no one has juiced into millions at the draft.

    YHS, etc
     
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