VERNON, BC - When we met up with Jarome Iginla this morning for the second day of our #BearTracks trip with him in British Columbia, the forward was hitting the ice for a skating session.
Yesterday, we saw his competitive nature come out when racing his brother, Stephen, in sprints as part of his offseason routine, amidst the beautiful backdrop of the Okanagan Valley.
This morning, the competitor was just as hard on himself - if not harder - as he worked on the intricate details of the game, with only a goalie and his skating coach, Tomas Pacina, on the ice.
"During the summer, I like to get on the ice definitely starting in July and make sure the rust doesn't build up, and also work on things to improve," said Iginla.
As he laced up his skates and made his way onto the ice, without pads and with his set of four sticks, the forward maneuvered his way through a series of stickhandling and skating drills.
"With Tomas, we do some edging, some skating. Inside edge, a lot of us use, but outside edge is a little tougher I find, so we work on that, crossovers."
"Speed and strength, too, just keep shooting the puck and keep ripping it."
Throughout the session that lasted about an hour, he made strides up and down the length of the rink and took passes from all areas of the ice, forehand and backhand.
"With his stickhandling, we try to develop longer range of motion," said Pacina. "So making sure that he can be comfortable with the puck around his body anywhere it is, behind, in front."
At one point, Jarome also worked on balance and stickhandled on one leg from side to side, before unleashing his shot on the goalie.
"Some of its hands and balance. I'm a shooter first and that's a strength, so we still work on that," said the forward, whom Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli has pegged as the "shoot first" right winger, who will most likely play on David Krejci's line.
"But crossovers, speed, turns and tight turns and keeping our speed out of turns is something that over the years we've worked on."
Last season, I saw not only the work ethic it takes to break into the NHL, but also how to stay in the league, with someone like Jaromir Jagr and the extra work he would do day in and day out, even after a long, illustrious career.
It may be a no-brainer - professional athletes always honing their skills - but it's those who take it that one step further who consistently excel like Jarome has throughout his 16-season NHL career.
"You always want to keep trying to get better, and try to make sure rust doesn't get on there," he said. "You've got to work hard, it's fun. You want to be prepared going into the season."
And it's a session like this morning with Jarome that shows how no matter how many years you've played in the league, you can never be satisfied.
"It shows commitment. It shows that he’s competitive, he wants to win," said Pacina of the power forward.
"He understands that other players are getting better all the time as well, so if you stay at one place, players will pass you."
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