Off-season doesn’t mean Clowe’s off work

Sharks forward makes daily trips to the gym, where he’s pushed by Bob Thompson and by self-motivation

Kenn Oliver
Published on July 13, 2012
Ryane Clowe (right) takes a breather during one of his daily off-season training sessions at the Noel Browne High Performance Centre inside the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre (PowerPlex) on Crosbie Road in St. John’s. At left is fellow professional hockey player Mark Lee. — Photo by Kenn Oliver/The Telegram

Who doesn’t look forward to a little well-earned time off?    

Ryane Clowe certainly does. The San Jose Sharks’ forward says every hockey player wants to play as late into the season as possible, but given the physical and mental toll that exacts, the need for a break is  extremely important to a pro athlete.

“You’re so focused, and put so much pressure on yourself to compete at the highest level,” says the Fermeuse native. “During the off-season, it’s kind of nice not to have that. At some point, hockey is the farthest thing from your mind.”

Clowe says most players take four to six weeks after the season ends to simply recover and relax. In his case, that begins with an annual team trip to Las Vegas.

“We have a good time. We have 15 to 20 guys, so it is what it is,” says Clowe when asked exactly how good a time they have.

After that, it’s back to St. John’s to spend time with family, especially two-year-old daughter Willow.

Once that period of relaxation comes to and end, it’s back to work preparing for next season.

“After your four to six weeks off, we’re going Monday to Friday for three hours (daily) in the gym. That’s no picnic when you’re training pretty hard at an intense level.”

Still, Clowe enjoys pushing himself, especially with a focal point.

“I’m sure most guys feel their goal is to have a great year individually, and team-wise, to have a chance at a Stanley Cup. If you can’t get motivated to go to the gym every day for that, you’re in the wrong sport.”

Helping him get ready for training camp and the grind of the upcoming season is personal trainer Bob Thompson, who has been working with Clowe for over a decade.

“He’s helped get me to the next level, he’s pushed me and he’s done the same for the other guys who train with him,” says Clowe.

“He’s adapted to the changes in the fitness and physical strength training of hockey players through the years and he’s got his own input as well.

“He’s on top of things,”

Other local hockey players working with Thompson include the Tampa Bay Lightning’s new $13.5 million man Teddy Purcell, the Ottawa Senators’ Colin Greening, European pro Mark Lee, AHL forward Robert Slaney and Marcus Power of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

Clowe says Thompson is in regular contact with Sharks’ strength coach Mike Potenza. Asked if the organization had an opinion of Thompson’s work, Clowe says it’s evident what the trainer has helped accomplished by his tip-top conditioning on arrival at training camp each September.

“I feel like that’s what helped me get to the next level, my fitness and my conditioning. That’s something I’ve always took pride in and I feel that’s an area I where I can probably get an edge on guys. “ he says.

“When you’re fighting for jobs, and you’re in the NHL competing at a high level, you try to get any type of edge.

“So yeah,  Bob’s done a great job.”

Trying to get his game back on the links

Hockey isn’t the only game Clowe is working on these days.  For up to three days a week, he’s trying to lower his handicap on the Clovelly Golf Club’s Osprey course. His current handicap is 15. which is pretty good. Problem is, it hasn’t been getting better. In fact, it’s regressed.

“Five years ago, I was quite a bit lower than that, but I’ve been getting frustrated and I feel like I’m becoming a worse golfer.

“I think you peak and then you have nowhere to go but down,” explains Clowe who says it’s never hard to find friends to play a round.

“For as much as I golf, I should be better. I need to get my game back.”

Clowe sometimes hits the links with Purcell and Dallas Stars sniper and Bonavista native Michael Ryder, who has a reputation for being a near scratch golfer.

“(Ryder) hits his driver like he shoots. He pounds it and consistently hits as straight and as long as anyone as I’ve ever played with,” says Clowe.

“He’s great to golf with. He kicks my butt every time.”

Once Clowe heads to training camp, there’s still more golf to be played. Last year, he played one of the more memorable rounds of his life.

“Last year myself, (Joe) Thornton, Brent Burns and Jason Demers played Pebble Beach. It was gorgeous,” says Clowe, adding he hopes to use his connections to arrange another outing there this fall.

“It’s one of those courses you play on a video game or you know every hole from watching it on TV and then you get to play it. It was pretty neat.”

Clowe and Purcell hold their fourth annual charity golf tournament at Clovelly, with proceeds assisting, among others, the City of St. John’s R.E.A.L. program. Other NHLers set to take part are Demers and Burns, as well as the Lightning’s Vincent Lecavalier and Ryan Malone.

“I get asked a lot (about) how one puts a team in the tournament and I wish I could help get everyone in, but obviously there are only so many spots and they fill up quick,” explains Clowe.

“But you can’t complain about that. It’ll be another good year.”