Zack Fitzgerald believes that Sheffield Steelers have a secret weapon which will give them an advantage over competitors when the new term starts.
He and other members of the squad are being mentored and guided by the team’s experienced strength and conditioning coach Danny Mawe, throughout the off-season.
“Danny was only with the team for the first time last year and he made a huge difference” says the American rough-house defenceman, who joined the club this time last year from Elite rivals Braehead Clan.
“He really was a part of the team, he just didn’t do the gym with us, he was there on the road, helping out.
“Now we have him all through the summer too, people won’t realise what a difference that will make, but it will.
“Just having a guy there who knows you. Knows your injuries from the previous year, knows you and your body and makes individual plans for each guy to get the best out of them.
“In the NHL and AHL players spend thousands of dollars for that one-to-one service” added Fitzgerald, who was once on the books of Vancouver Canucks.
“In the past me and a few buddies would go to the gym and work out, maybe even group together to work with a guy like Danny. Now we have him 24/7.
“The club have invested, he is a weapon we have that others don’t and that will give us an edge. It did last year” said Fitzgerald, referring to their league championship success.
“Also spending the summer in Sheffield means I can work out with the rest of the guys and in Sheffield there are quiet a few of us. Again it makes a difference, Danny gets us together and works us hard as a group.”
Fitzgerald, aged 30, is looking forward to a second crack at the Champions Hockey League, his side having been drawn against HV71 Jonkoping and Red Bull Salzburg
“I’m excited. I think last year we learned a lot playing against the calibre of opposition and the CHL is another reason we are all working so hard...now looking forward to those games.
“Our team will be strong again. I’m sure we will be the side others aim for in the Elite League. We are trying to make history and they will be trying to stop us.
“I reiterate, we have good people here from top to bottom and that makes a difference.
“Together we will give it a hell of a go in the CHL and the Elite League.”