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Size and Speed

"The larger, faster athlete seems to be the trend," Sharks Team Doctor Arthur Ting told us. Average players now tip the scale at over 200 pounds. Smaller fast players can still play a role but many of these players need to have exceptional skills to stay in the league. The Sharks are one of the largest teams in the NHL, second only to the Philadelphia Flyers in average weight. The Flyers have gained success with their "legion of doom" line, a hard-hitting, highly skilled line of players who all easily top the 200-pound mark. The line's center is Eric Lindros, a 6 foot 4, 229-pound player. The Sharks are looking for the same sort of success and have a number of large, skilled younger players like 6' 5" 230-pound Andrei Nazarov and 6' 4" 225-pound Viktor Kozlov.

 Andrei Nazarov
At 6' 5", Andrei Nazarov is one of the larger forwards in the NHL.

We asked former Head Coach Al Sims about players' size and he thought that larger players contribute to better puck possesion. "Larger, stronger players can win the battles against the boards and come out with the puck more often." But size and even speed aren't everything. Sims told us, "There's something called 'smarts' or 'intuition'; whatever you want to call it, some players have it, some don't. Some players have a sense of where other players are on the ice. They can see where plays are developing and they anticipate very well." The "thinking players" as Sims called them, are the ones they look for.

Pysical and Psychological traits

If NHL teams posted an ad in the newspaper looking for hockey players it might look something like this:

Wanted: NHL hockey player. Must be a highly skilled skater, passer, checker, and shooter. Needs to be in top physical condition. Would prefer applicant to be over 200 lbs, in mid-twenties with lots of experience. Must be willing to work in high-stress, sometime dangerous conditions. Must be highly competive, a team player and willing to travel. Position starts at 200k or more depending on experience.

Arthur Ting M.D.
Sharks Team DoctorArthur Ting discusses the competitiveness of the players.

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Certainly it takes a unique person to play in the NHL. We were interested in what traits these players shared. Sharks Team Doctor Arthur Ting commented, "They all have extreme competiveness...a relentless personality with regards to competition." He followed up by saying that he thought they were all gifted physically, but it was the desire to compete and to push their bodies which got them to the next level. The combination of skill along with the competitive nature of these athletes is part of what makes watching the game of hockey so enjoyable for us fans.


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