"There's not much time off" Tyler Johnson hard at work following breakout season




Posted on July 22, 2014 at 5:25 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 22 at 8:40 AM

Tyler Johnson knows firsthand, the word "off-season" can be misleading.
"There's not much time off," he said.
The Central Valley grad and former Spokane Chiefs star gets up many mornings at 5:45 a.m. to work out. It is a routine that has helped catapult him from an undersized WHL prospect to one of the NHL's top rookies.
"I'm living a dream," Johnson said. "Ever since day one I wanted to play in the NHL, and in order for me to stay there I have to have workouts like this. I have to work hard."
With the help of trainer Drew Buchkoski of APX Strength in Spokane, that is precisely how he's spending his warm months.
"He's a guy that knows what got him to where he's at," Buchkoski said. "And he's not gonna take a step back. He's gonna keep pushing forward."
Now in his third year working with Buchkoski, Johnny has gotten the desired results.
"I feel like from day one to now I'm a whole different person."

"You can see how strong his lower half is and his base is," Buchkoski said. "That's really helped him with puck handling, control, being able to keep possession."
He is both better and bigger - up about 15 pounds from where they started. But stature isn't their main concern.

"We can't stretch his body, we can't make him grow," Buchkoski added.

Nor is brute strength.

"The old way of hockey is you have to be able bench 250 pounds," Johnson said. "Look at Wayne Gretzky, I guarantee he's never been able to bench 250 pounds. No offense to him, he's the greatest hockey player ever."

Instead they play to Tyler's strengths.
"His low center of gravity," Buchkoski said. "His crotch is lowest to the ground, it's like 12 inches... You don't see that, it's a huge advantage."
One they enhance with drills that replicate what he does in uniform.

"You want this to transition on the ice, where they get to the ice they feel more explosive, more powerful, faster, more in shape."

"I just feel a lot stronger, quicker, a lot better about myself," Johnson said. "I'm able to do certain things. I'm able to compete with anybody."
That showed in Tyler's first full season, in the form of 24 goals and 26 assists for Tampa Bay. With year one productivity, comes year two expectations.

"You gotta embrace that. I love that fact that people want more from me. I want more from myself," Johnson said. "I hope to be better. I hope to be stronger. I hope to be faster. In every aspect of the game I want to improve."