Anyone who has ever been an athlete (or even just a casual game-player) knows that to avoid injury you need to increase your strength. The stronger you are, the less likely you'll be to get hurt.
I learned the hard way that bicycle racing had created a major discrepancy between my quad and hamstring muscles when I dislocated my knee in April 2007. One of the main reasons I got hurt was because the front of my leg was much stronger than the back, creating an imbalance that ended with me in surgery and then on crutches for a month. Live and learn, I suppose.
Another real-world example of the importance of strength training: the Colorado Avalanche.
I linked to it in the previous entry about Coach Q, but Adrian Dater's recent blog post (in which he joins the chorus of "nays" on Q's future with the team) was full of interesting tidbits. In response to a reader's comment that the team's entire training staff should be fired:
About the training staff thing: I’ve heard some whispers that the Avs are one of the most poorly trained teams in the league when it comes to weight training. I am not going to sit here and pretend I have any idea whether that’s true or not, but I will say that there were a few guys on the team I wouldn’t have sweated in an arm-wrestling match.
Now, nobody expects Marek Svatos or Jordan Leopold to become the next Rod Brind'Amour* or Raitis Ivanans, but some serious strength training would definitely come in handy for a team that spent much of the season being pushed around and/or sitting out due to injury.
Some injuries can't be prevented through training, like Ryan Smyth's shoulder separation. Getting hit full-speed into the edge of the boards is going to hurt, no matter what. But fatigue and stress-related problems like back spasms and groin pulls are all preventable through proper training. And by proper training, I'm not referring to the incorrect form of Milan Hejduk's squat routine, which resulted in a sore back and missed games early in the season.
The Avs need a solid program to increase their size, speed and strength. Not only would they be a harder team to push around on the ice, but it would also go a long way to preventing many of the injuries that sidelined them all season.
May I recommend the fine folks at Poliquin, who have a solid record of building strong hockey players:
*More on "Rod The Bod" can be seen here...ladies.