Baertschi ready for the next step in his career
ABBOTSFORD, BC -- For professional athletes, strength training is an art form.
In ones quest to bulk up, they have to be very attentive to how muscle mass effects other aspects of their game - a bit too much time focusing on strength training can cause a significant decrease in speed and agility.
"You don't want to get slow, you know?" Calgary Flames prospect Sven Baertschi said after his first on-ice session at the Abbotsford Heat training camp. "You have to make sure you're working on everything; speed, skill. All of that."
Getting bigger and stronger was Baertschi's top priority this summer - he put on close to 10 pounds over the course of the off-season - but he didn't neglect other aspects of his training regimen to spend hours lifting weights. In addition to making sure he reported to camp with more muscle on his frame, he wanted to top his results from the Flames development camp in July.
"I think I improved in the squats and the bench press. I think my skating test was better than the last one too. I'm not sure what the results (say yet) but I think I improved a lot."
Going through the rigors of fitness testing is one thing but proving yourself on the ice is a totally different matter. Baertschi is anxious to show the coaching staff he has what it takes to be an impact player for the Heat and the first step is putting in a strong performance every day in practice.
"It's good to get going," he said, gesturing to the ice where Team Black was being put through the paces by head coach Troy Ward. "It was a good tempo and really good first practice.
"There are some areas I want to improve on. It's not the Western Hockey League anymore. It's the American Hockey League and I have to make sure I'm ready to go as soon as the season starts."
Known for being a workhorse in practice, Baertschi is soaking up everything the Abbotsford coaching staff has say, looking to refine his game on every level.
"I don't set certain goals like, 'I want to score 25 goals,' - I just want to get better all-around as a hockey player, as a person.
"When you try to improve your whole game, goals and points, they come. You have to do the little things right."
The Swiss forward gave a preview of what people can expect to see this year during his short stint in Calgary in the spring. Recalled on an emergency basis, Baertschi looked like a regular amongst NHL veterans rather than an inexperienced 19 year-old junior player plucked from his WHL club to help the injury-ravaged Flames.
He ended up scoring three goals in five outings before being sent back to the Portland Winterhawks when bodies left the sick bay. He finished off the WHL regular season with a staggering 94 points (33 goals, 61 assists) in 47 games before rattling off another 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in 22 playoff games.
However, all of that is in the past for Baertschi and he isn't spending time reminiscing about his success in the 2011-12 campaign. The only thing on his mind is this season.
"I just want to get going. I'm ready to get the season started."