The majority of the off-season for hockey players is focused on achieving a singular goal. For most, that means gaining X amount of weight, but there are exceptions. Certain guys have trouble keeping the pounds off, others want to tone up, some need to improve their cardio. Still, the goal is almost always centred around your build.
The main reason is that you think it’s going to help you once you step out onto the ice, but you’re also aware of another crucial moment that you have to be ready for: the weigh-in.
The weigh-in happens quick and casually, wedged somewhere between the “turn your head and cough” physical and the time you get your head shot taken. It’s a fleeting moment of stepping on the scale, a number being established, then it’s over.
Then it’s EVERYWHERE.
It’s in the program. It’s in the media guides, on the scout’s clipboards, on the internet, in your opponent’s dressing room. There’s no update to it down the road, just THIS IS WHAT PLAYER X WEIGHS. ALL THE TIME. WITHOUT EQUIVOCATION.
So obviously, you want that number to be up or down, depending on your priorities (I keep hedging my bets with the “or down” talk, but almost everyone wants the biggest number possible. I can think of two players I played with who didn’t, so I’m doing that for them.)
The weigh-in usually happens in the morning, so the steps players take are as follows:
Naturally, you eat a huge breakfast. Something dense that makes you feel awful and sits in your gut for hours. Sausage-heavy biscuits and gravy, maybe. If you can, avoid pooping (journalism!).
Most humans can’t drink a gallon of water in 15 minutes without throwing up, so you have to plan your water intake very carefully. Ideally, you’d like to get one down in the morning, sip more on the way to the rink, then crush as much as you can as close to stepping on the scale. Nausea > weighing in light.
If you’re lucky, your team may want to help you out – after all, the better your players look, the more move on (I’m referring to junior/college/minor pro, to be clear – NHLers likely don’t care as much), and the better your program looks. So some won’t make you strip down to your underwear. I played on one team that let guys weigh in in their clothes, so a few guys layered on hoodies like they were trying to sweat out the flu.
Another season I played on a team that allowed you to weigh in your shorts. This led one savvy, devious player to take a couple 2.5lb weights from the weight room, and tape them to the inside of his thighs before hopping on. Now that’s good hustle.
Cheating your height is a lot harder to do, but you’d be surprised how unprofessional the measurement process is at most places. We had some five-foot intern put a clipboard on our heads one year in college, then measure the mark on the wall – being short, the clipboard angled up, so everybody came in with ridiculously tall numbers (I had to call our Athletic Administrator to change it before they printed programs – I’m over 6’1″ – listed as 6’2″ most years – but I’m sure as shit not 6’3″).
If you’re not lucky enough to have a short measurement-taker, then it’s heels-up, heels-up, heels-up, no matter how many times they tell you to stand flat.
Scouts know this happens, of course, but all that means is you have to do it. If you team comes down with a case of the morals, a scout would end up reading your actual height and assume you’re an inch shorter.
Whatever you can do to inflate those numbers, you do it, and nobody holds a grudge against anybody else for trying. As I mentioned earlier, I’m sure it doesn’t matter nearly as much once you’re an established NHLer, but in the process of getting there, you use any trick you can to get a second look from the league above.