A 26 year physiological description of a National Hockey League team

Quinney, H. A.; Dewart, Randy; Game, Alex; Snydmiller, Gary; Warburton, Darren; Bell, Gordon
August 2008
Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism;Aug2008, Vol. 33 Issue 4, p753
Academic Journal
The primary purpose of this investigation was to examine the physiological profile of a National Hockey League (NHL) team over a period of 26 years. All measurements were made at a similar time of year (pre-season) in 703 male (mean age ± SD = 24 ± 4 y) hockey players. The data were analyzed across years, between positions (defensemen, forwards, and goaltenders), and between what were deemed successful and non-successful years using a combination of points acquired during the season and play-off success. Most anthropometric (height, mass, and BMI) and physiological parameters (absolute and relative VO2 peak, relative peak 5 s power output, abdominal endurance, and combined grip strength) showed a gradual increase over the 26 year period. Defensemen were taller and heavier, had higher absolute VO2 peak, and had greater combined grip strength than forwards and goaltenders. Forwards were younger and had higher values for relative VO2 peak. Goaltenders were shorter, had less body mass, a higher sum of skinfolds, lower VO2 peak, and better flexibility. The overall pre-season fitness profile was not related to team success. In conclusion, this study revealed that the fitness profile for a professional NHL ice-hockey team exhibited increases in player size and anaerobic and aerobic fitness parameters over a 26 year period that differed by position. However, this evolution of physiological profile did not necessarily translate into team success in this particular NHL franchise. Le but principal de cette étude est d’analyser l’évolution du profil physiologique d’une équipe de la Ligue nationale de hockey (NHL) au cours des 26 dernières années. Toutes les mesures ont été prises chez 703 joueurs (âge moyen ± écart-type : 24 ± 4 ans) à peu près au même moment de l’année, soit avant le début de la saison. Les comparaisons suivantes sont effectuées : d’une année à l’autre, d’un poste à l’autre (défenseurs, attaquants, gardiens de buts), des bonnes et des moins bonnes années selon le nombre de points accumulés durant la saison et le niveau de succès observé durant les séries éliminatoires. En 26 ans, on observe une amélioration graduelle de la plupart des valeurs des variables anthropométriques (masse, taille, IMC) et physiologiques (VO2 de pointe absolu et relatif, puissance relative de pointe produite en 5 s, endurance abdominale et force de préhension combinée). Comparativement aux attaquants et aux gardiens de buts, les défenseurs étaient plus grands et plus pesants et présentaient un meilleur VO2 de pointe absolu et une plus grande force de préhension combinée. Par contre, les attaquants étaient plus jeunes et présentaient un meilleur VO2 de pointe relatif. Les gardiens de but étaient moins grands, moins pesants et présentaient un plus haut total des épaisseurs de pli cutané, un plus faible VO2 de pointe et une meilleure flexibilité. Le profil physiologique global établi avant le début de la saison n’est pas relié au succès de l’équipe. En conclusion, la condition physique de l’équipe des joueurs de hockey professionnel, définie par le gabarit des joueurs et les variables de performance aérobie et anaérobie, s’est améliorée au fil des ans de façon différente selon les postes occupés sur la glace. L’amélioration du profil physiologique ne s’est pas révélée en lien néanmoins avec le succès de cette équipe de la NHL.


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