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Ryan O`Reilly brings creative training to the Avalanche

Adrian Dater posted this video on a recent All Things Avs blog post, and I made the mistake of reading the comments. Most were pretty benign, but Joseph wrote this:

That's absolutely ridiculous. It's very hard to believe that Sacco gets paid good money to coach this team.

A "tire" drill????

Guess that's what terrible coaches do when they've run out ideas.

Joseph's comment is off-base on a number of points, but the most egregious one is the fact he assumed Joe Sacco created this drill and took the team through it. Well, Joseph would be wrong.

As I recall, sometime during the 2009-2010 season, Ryan O`Reilly—rink rat that he is—started creating his own drills for that period of time when the official practice is over but the team still has ice time. This part of practice is optional and generally lasts about an hour although most players don't stay out that long. I'm sure I don't need to tell you who does this season.

In 2010-2011, O'Reilly began teaching the other guys drills, and you would regularly see a group of them working one skill or another with O`Reilly leading them. One day (in November, I think) I was at practice and watched Radar bring a tire out on the ice. He set up a bit of an obstacle course using the tire, some gloves and a stick with the object being to stickhandle the puck around the gloves and over the stick and then score through the center of the tire. Now, I don't know if that was the first time he brought out the tire, but I recall someone (either him, his brother Cal O`Reilly or Joey Hishon) talking about training with the tire during the off-season. I also recall O`Reilly saying he was bringing some of this drills from home to Denver. It appears those drills have really clicked with the team.

This season, I saw a drill that really impressed me: a stick was propped up on one side by the tire, giving it some height. One player stood on one side of the crease, taking a pass and flipping the puck over the stick to another player on the other side of the crease. That player then tipped the puck into the net after it bounced off the ice. Sound familiar? It should, because this is what it looks real time:

Unfortunately, I don't have video of the drill in practice. But just imagine Cam Fowler as a stick propped up on a tire, and you get the idea.

Often times, professional athletes do things in training that we may not seem to understand. That doesn't mean they aren't good ways to train. O'Reilly has brought some very creative drills to this team, and I've no doubt it's inspired others. In fact, here's some tire fun that Erik Johnson and Stefan Elliott put together:

And an upgrade on that original stickhandling drill I described, set up by Tim Army:

Tire drills are cool.