As previous posts in this series have pointed out, Steven Stamkos is very, very serious when it comes to his workouts. So serious that early in his career, Nike dedicated three online videos to his workouts entitled, “The Road to Boom.” Just “Boom,” not “Boom Town,” so it’s not Calico, California. Boom is probably somewhere just outside Toronto where the host of today’s video might have wished Stamkos had signed last summer.
Prior to the start of Stamkos’ third season in the league, Steve Dangle, long-time Leafs fan, video blogger, podcaster, writer and general man about the internet, interviewed the young Lightning center as part of his Dangle’s Angle series for Nike.
Fans of Dangle will recognize various aspects of his video that are similar to his “LFR” videos that he has posted following every Leafs game for the past 10 seasons (which, at times, have almost broken him). It’s filmed in his bedroom [I believe he has a room just for his LFRs now. - Acha]. Hat Guy is part of the intro, and there are a lot of quick cuts. The main difference, since this is for Nike, is that there is a lack of Maple Leafs gear displayed. Dangle instead is shown in a Team Canada jersey at the beginning.
The main interview took place in August prior to the season, but was released later in the year after Stamkos gotten off to a torrid start. Dangle references the 13 goals in his first 14 games, a streak that actually turned into 21 goals in his first 22 games. Like Hat Guy quips, those numbers were truly “offensive.”
The fast start to his season had some wondering if Stamkos could be the next “50 goals in 50 games” guy, a feat that had not been accomplished to start the season since Brett Hull in 1991-92. Mario Lemieux scored 50 in 50 games played in 1995-96, but the Penguins had actually played 59 games. Either way, Stamkos was on the way to something that is quite rare.
Stamkos ended up cooling off from December on, and only scored another 25 goals the rest of the season to finish with 46 on the year. Not a bad season, especially since the Lightning made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals that year. There would be no cooling off the next season as he scored early and often throughout the year on his way to a franchise record 61 goals.
Dangle mentions “all the crazy stuff [Gary] Roberts puts Stamkos through” in regards to training. To Dangle, the transformation of Stamkos physically was one of the main things that he remembers from the interview. He told Raw Charge, “I remember meeting Stamkos and just being like, ‘What happened to the babyface?’ This dude was jacked, looked like he hadn’t seen a carb in a months... This was a man.”
In addition to the training regimen, Stamkos also mentions some advice he received from then-coach Guy Boucher. Boucher believed in working on a player’s strengths more than his weaknesses. The theory being that if you spend all your time bringing your weaker areas up to average, your strengths will diminish and overall you end up being an average player.
It was a really interesting approach that may explain some of the disconnect that Stamkos has with the current coaching staff. If they are more focused with Stamkos working on the weaker parts of his game (faceoffs, defense, etc.) it could be detracting from his offense. Is a player like Stamkos more effective for a team as an all-around player (sacrificing scoring for better defense), or as a pure offensive forward? Is he more useful as Alex Ovechkin or Patrice Bergeron?
Stamkos lists his strengths as a 20-year-old as “my speed, my quickness and my shot,” and not too many people would argue with him there. Roberts’ training program is tailored to build on those strengths by building up the core and using more explosive exercises done at a fast pace. You know, like squatting 300 lbs “in an explosive” fashion as opposed to 500 lbs slowly.
Would the 26-year-old Stamkos still list those three traits as his strength? His possession numbers have gotten better over his career, but he’s probably not swapping his shot for his faceoff percentage anytime soon.
With the way Stamkos started the 2010-11 season, it was reassuring to the fans of the Lightning that he wasn’t going to be a one-year wonder. The 51-goal season wasn’t a fluke and Tampa Bay had a legitimate goal-scoring threat for as long as he wanted to play in Tampa.
And while some folks named Steve might have made lengthy video pitches to lure him to Toronto last offseason, Stamkos has stayed, and will hopefully one day own all of the Lightning’s offensive records.