(editor’s note: B.D. Gallof is an original member of the NYI Blog Box and a featured blogger on The Site That Cannot Be Named. A recent champion of a blogosphere-wide Photoshop competition on Puck Daddy – he had Gary Bettman stand in for the King of Sparta in “300” – Gallof will be a contributor and guest editor on Point Blank. I’d also like to personally thank him for his assistance prior to launch…CB).
Coach Gordon Channeling “Spaceballs?”
by B.D. Gallof
When Scott Gordon took over, I thought he was the best man for the job. It was his time, and the Isles were his perfect place to set up shop. Sure, the vets might say they want to compete now. But the reality is, this year the NY Islanders are pockmarked with missing elements and attributes. This is not a terrible thing; it allows the kids to take advantage of opportunity to show their stuff. I think many of us have been waiting for a clear vision and commitment to give playing time to those that are the promise of a better future, vet wishes or not.
There are severe holes on goals, offensive output, and even top defensemen. This is not to say there is no quality within. But, ladies and gentlemen, much is either slightly over the hill or just below the slope upward. So, Gordon is no fool. He’s got a plan.
Gordon’s known strength is making mediocre teams better by installing a system and also being very prepared. Knowledge is power. But it will only go so far. Upon training camp, he has installed some base to create some structure. He’s put forth something for Islander players to hold onto. Something conceptual, if not nebulous, if not maybe even spiritual…
He has given them OVERSPEED.
If you didn’t know, a hockey player is capable of playing at four different speeds: sub-light speed, light speed, ridiculous speed, and…well… clearly, Scott Gordon is channeling his Mel Brooks by having them play . . .
Obviously, Gordon is not planning for this team to don a pair of rockets on their skate boots to somehow overcome scoring and defensive liabilities. For the Isles are not the speediest or agile of teams. So what was Coach Gordon thinking?
Perhaps ludicrous is right? Maybe. Then you look deeper under the surface. The concept Gordon has devised is really quite nifty.
Do you know what the term overspeed means in athletics? Probably not, since nobody has really wrestled with it, simply too stunned or flabbergasted by its introduction this training camp in Moncton.
OverSpeed: in the sports industry means that a player moves his body or limbs of the body at speeds higher than normal competitive speeds. OverSpeed actually requires a lot of training, including a regimen that requires athletes to run 8-13 percent faster than they are capable. This program is actually used in the sports training industry, first developed for college soccer players who needed to get up to speed fast, especially when there are no rivals or competition that can raise their game. Instead, the high-end training raises it instead. They become their own competition, raising themselves and the stakes.
Done correctly, it can raise a player’s level up anywhere from 10 to 20% according to a few websites and doctor-driven articles.
But, is this really Scott Gordon’s plan? Will he be channeling his Burgess Meredith? Does he plan on making the Isles into a team that will train for Apollo Creed chasing live chickens? Or is this more just picking up a loose buzzword and concept, and redressing it for a live mantra on the ice.
Per the Isles website:
“The essence of the style is to be constantly moving and getting the puck up the ice quickly. It’s all about high speed with and without the puck and putting pressure on the opposition.”
Well, that’s very different from the real applied concept. But the same idea is there at heart: How to get more from little. Or, to be blunt, draw water from a stone. Gordon wants up-tempo speeds, quick decisions, and committed actions on that ice. This is more than prepared strategy and quick implementation. It is asking for a level of activity that will not just outwork the other team. It is, by process, in a small long-term way to raise the Isles level of play day in-and-out, so over the long haul, they get better. Perhaps raising exponentially their output where the training of overspeed is applied in each game.
So, at the bigger picture, maybe Overspeed does fit. Maybe Gordon is onto something?
Sure it is simplified, even far-removed from the defined applied use. But, it might be basic and simple enough to work and be taken to heart by a team that needs something to grasp onto. This team is starved for something like this. This team must come out with something to offset gaps in talent and offensive output. Activity and tempo, besides poise and some good moxy, can be the difference of closely fought games.
This won’t be an easy year for Isles player and fan. It’s a tough NHL out there. The best system for those without top tier talent, oodles of cash, and draft boons up the ying-yang is something that they all believe in heart and soul. That’s all it takes.
Overspeed is more than just some gimmick. It is a philosophy that needs to be absorbed and held even if the Isles take a string of losses. It will take time to instill, condition and might be sporadic on the results. It is the right idea, and deserves player commitment.
So fellow Isles fans, may the Schwartz be with you.