Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Vladimir Mihalik had a choice to make; he made the right one
Part of tomorrow's story about how many Lightning players, mostly youngsters, went to Minnesota over the summer to work with strength and conditioning coach Chuck Lobe, concerns the makeovers of right wing Steve Downie and defenseman Vladimir Mihalik.
Both took their summer workouts seriously and have transformed their bodies. Downie, who apparently is going to get a shot at playing on a line with Vinny Lecavalier and Alex Tanguay, reduced his body fat from 12 to 7.5 percent, according to Lobe. Mihalik went from 17 percent to 11 percent. It was Mihalik, though, who faced the most dramatic choice about where he anted his career to go.
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said Sunday that had Mihalik not gotten into good physical shape over the summer, he might not have been invited to Tampa Bay's camp and would have been shipped straight to Norfolk. That's quite a critique considering Mihalik played 11 games with the Lightning last season with three assists.
"There's a guy who could have have his foot out the door," Tocchet said. "But he understood what we're trying to do and he worked at it. He's invested in himself right now. You can see the difference in his body."
Tocchet's comments follow what Norfolk coach Darren Rumble said the other day; that Mihalik (6 feet 7, 222 pounds) has had slow starts the past two seasons, and how the team could no longer wait 40 games for him to get himself on track. But Mihalik said he was not thinking about slow or fast starts when he spent three weeks working with Lobe.
"I thought I was in good shape," he said, "but compared to this year, and knowing what I can do, I figured out it was pretty bad."
"I've got to give him credit," Tocchet said. "He's taken the ball and run with it. He's a pro."
And a leaner one, at that.