CALDER CUP PLAYOFF BLOG: Lifting, playing and practicing

April 29, 2014

When you walk into the Chicago Wolves’ locker room at their Hoffman Estates practice facility, you can never predict what style of music will be blaring in the strength and conditioning room.

Depending on which players are working out, strength and conditioning coach Evan Levy’s iPhone might be tuned to a Techno channel, hair metal, adult contemporary, ‘80s party anthems or, as of 12:30 Tuesday afternoon, Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.”

Here’s something that doesn’t change in Levy’s room during the playoffs: The players’ commitment to working out. Yes, it’s crucial to conserve energy to be able to peak when the Wolves’ Western Conference Quarterfinals against Rochester resume with Game 3 at 7 p.m. Thursday at Allstate Arena. But there’s a balance that must be struck.

“If we play all the way until June and we stop lifting, then that could be eight weeks we don’t do anything,” said Levy, who’s in his first year with the Wolves and fourth working with an American Hockey League team. “It’s important for the players to understand that it’s OK that they maintain their lifts. That they won’t be sore, they won’t be tired. If they do feel a little sore, then it’s a necessary evil because if we go eight weeks without training, not only will we lose our capacity to play, but we could also get hurt easier.”

At the same time, the lifting and conditioning programs aren’t as extensive as the regular season. If a player worked out for 15-20 minutes after a Tuesday practice in January, maybe he does just 5-10 minutes after a Tuesday practice during the playoffs.

“No. 1, we want to make sure the guys are ready to play, so we’ll maintain our lifts but lessen the volume,” Levy said. “We’ll do fewer sets and repetitions. We’ll also change a couple exercises to do safer ones because the guys are worn down and it’s been a long season. For example, instead of doing a double-leg exercise that emphasizes more of the back, we’ll do a single-leg exercise that emphasizes less of the back. It’s a little bit safer.”


One Chicago Wolves employee who’s dealing with extra soreness at this time of the year is head coach John Anderson.

One way he blows off steam during the season — and he’s not taking a break during the playoffs — is participating in the Max Achium league that plays in Downers Grove and Carol Stream a couple nights per week. Anderson claims Max Achium is Latin for “Over the Hill.”

Anderson played Sunday night until about 11 p.m., so he was feeling it during Monday’s practice. Nonetheless, he planned to play again with his buddies on Tuesday night.

“There are 50 people in the league and only 30 can play on a given night,” Anderson said. “So you have to call and reserve a spot. If you’re not among the first 30, you don’t get to play.”

Anderson scored 282 goals during his 12-year NHL career and 140 more during four seasons in the American Hockey League and International Hockey League, so it’s fair to assume he could put up some nice Max Achium numbers. Instead, he’s just as likely to play as a defenseman and he enjoys the thrill of passing the puck. He says he only tracks one stat in his head: Plus/minus.

To read more about the Max Achium boys, enjoy this story by Daily Herald columnist Burt Constable:


The Wolves held a video session and then an optional 45-minute practice on Tuesday morning. Clearly the players wanted to keep preparing for Rochester as they had more than 90 percent of the active players on the ice for the workout

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