Ice hockey players - they are a tough breed.
Injuries are common-place in the skirmishes of professional sport. A player who competes in every game of a League programme is an achievement in itself - a select club within any club.
Last year six Sheffield Steelers players achieved that, Mathieu Roy, John Armstrong, Davey Phillips and three who have now left the fold, Guillaume Desbiens, Markus Nilsson and Luke Ferrara. They all clocked up 52 games.
Coach Paul Thompson says skaters play through pain on a regular basis. But players like Roy in particular were “as tough as they come.”
Steelers, a progressive club with a skilled conditioning coach in Danny Mawer, invest time reviewing injury prevention.
“If a stick, puck or an impact injury happens you cannot plan for that” says Thompson. “But what we have got better at is the bodies, the groins,..that have kept players out in the past. We are not having muscle-related injuries, strains etc.”
While players benefit from that, he added: “We play a physical game where everybody is expected to block shots, to throw a hit, take a hit, you do pick up the punishment that comes with that.”
Meanwhile, Thompson is expecting an even better season out of big Canadian centreman John Armstrong. The coach “shuffled him about” on different lines and for a while goals dried up. But he said that new players studying first year at Universities abroad often took a while to settle.
“I thought John in the Play Offs was outstanding” said Thompson.
“I am excited about a second year from him. He knows what to expect.”