The spring of 2008 does not seem that long ago. It was one that saw the Kitchener Rangers host the Memorial cup in the 90th anniversary year of that CHL trophy. The Rangers were OHL Champions, going in the front door and hoping for a chance to capture junior hockey’s most coveted prize. As fate would have it, the Rangers would make it to the final, only to lose to the Spokane Chiefs. Nazem Kadri went the distance that season with the Rangers and after a breakout year points wise, he was ramping things up in the off season aiming at a big year heading into his NHL draft season.
Fast forward to 2012. Kadri, now firmly planted with the NHL franchise that drafted him in 2009 – the Toronto Maple Leafs, was part of a Marlies team that put together an incredible run to the Calder Cup finals in the American Hockey League. Kadri would unfortunately experience the same feeling of falling just short in the finals, and would also have to battle through an injury that cut his playoff run short.
This set up another short offseason in Kadri’s career, but one that has proven to be unlike any other. With an intense mindset, he has achieved new levels of preparation and found countless positives heading into the 2012-2013 campaign.
We unravel the summer that was for Nazem `Q’ and `A’ style, as we go catching up with Kadri in the latest edition of the Marlies.ca blog.
Q: What were your feelings heading into the summer, fresh off a long playoff run that saw the Marlies fall just short of their ultimate goal?
“It was not something we could hang our heads over because we left everything out there. To be honest, it was a great couple of months with the playoff run we had and a lot of guys became very close. Really, after the season is done, you take time off…but before you‘ve even taken all your time off, you just start to get that itch to get back into things. I know all the guys are anxious to get going again and to get right back to where were last year.”
Q: You kept your Leaf connections strong this summer and enlisted in Gary Roberts high performance training. How did that relationship form?
“He actually tweeted me for the first time and asked me if I’d be interested and asked me if I thought I’d be able to make the NHL full time if I spent an offseason with him. We have been in close contact ever since. I did a little thinking about it and by the end there was little to think about, it was an automatic yes.”
Q: Did you know what you were getting into when you agreed to train under Roberts?
“I knew what he was all about before, I had looked into his program prior. He definitely helped. That is his area of expertise and I know he sees I can be an impact player on the ice, and that I can be a dominant player, just by watching – I just needed help with the off-ice stuff and now that he has, I feel great.”
Q: So what has helped you get to the point where you feel that good after your workouts this summer?
“Moving with the transition with Gary gave me that extra little bit I needed, especially with the background he comes from and all of the information he knows, I felt like if I worked as hard as I could, and listened to him and did what I could do, I would get to where I want to be. I didn’t really do anything with Gary that as new to me, per say, everything was relatively similar to what I had been doing,..he just knows the muscle groups to make you more explosive and that’s what I needed.”
Q: I’m sure if we broke down all of your training sessions this article could be multiple pages long, but what is one example of something you put your body through that pushed you to your limits?
“There is this thing called the kaiser runner. You strap in, you lie down on your stomach at about a 45 degree angle and push your feet back and forth as if you are running up a hill. It was a weighted machine so you could use the weight you are pushing off of. It is comparable to running up a hill, but you’re strapped into a machine. Honestly, that was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Up until I worked with Gary, I hadn’t seen one of those before, that’s the only thing I hadn’t seen. I’m pretty sure the first time I started with it – it was part of a conditioning circuit – and the first time I went through it, I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom and come back out.”
Q: How often did you participate in the training this summer?
“We went there 6 days a week, even Saturdays. Sessions were an hour and half, certain days we added 45 minutes of yoga on top. The workouts were broken down to groups, he had certain groups come in at certain times in the day.”
Q: A big part of the Gary Roberts high performance training program appears to be nutrition, as well. Did you experience a change in diet?
“That was probably the most drastic part of the training. I would go in every day and after I was finished the workouts I would take a prepared bag of food home and eat meals through the course of the day. I’m a pretty picky guy and some days were better than others. Some days I forced it down and chased it with water..whatever gets the job done. After the first couple of weeks you become used to the routine”
Q: After taking the steps to make this offseason one of your most impactful physical wise, would you say this is the most excited you’ve been to start a season from a personal level?
“Hands down. I think I’ve come in very well prepared the last couple of years, but with Gary showing me the way I feel leaner, faster and quicker, which is exactly what I wanted to do. I mean he’s getting there, he’s been around the block a couple times, so he certainly knows what works!”
Q: Did the way last season ended leave you with a similar motivation team wise, starting this year?
“The run deep into the playoffs got the adrenaline going and gets your mouth watering a bit. You just want to get back there and redeem yourself. So, I’m excited to play some hockey, regardless of where it is. I’m at the point now I’ve prepared myself and have my body ready for the season and I just want it to start.”
That’s all for now folks! Thanks to Nazem for taking the time during his offseason regime to catch up with us. You can follow him on twitter @43_Kadri and myself @HockeyAbbs. With the boys hitting the ice for informal scrimmages, I’ll be back soon with updates from more of your favourite Marlies/Leafs players.