Ahead of the World Junior Championship, Adam Douglas, Team Canada’s manager of sports performance, will aim to help the national program capture its 17th gold medal.
And though Douglas’ presence won’t be seen in the power or speed of the Canadian team, his impact will be felt by providing the coaching staff with players who are ready for the rigors of an intense, 11-day tournament. “A lot of my job is to get the players back to a performance state,” Douglas said, explaining players will be entering the tournament in the midst of the toughest part of their season. “A lot of times these guys come in and they’re running on fumes. Their CHL teams are playing them 25 to 26 minutes a night. We don’t need them to play that…and my job is to essentially get those guys back to a level of optimum performance.”
Over a condensed tournament schedule, recovery becomes the biggest part of Douglas’ duties with the team, so much so that he starts to lay the groundwork for the process in August at a week-long development camp. That carries through to December’s selection camp and is really hammered home once the tournament begins. That he lays the foundation so early makes sense given the incredibly in-depth recovery process starts the moment players get into the dressing room post-game.
On game day, they’re met with a recovery shake in their stall after the final buzzer – two- or three-to-one parts carbs to protein – which is followed by foam rolling, soft tissue work and hydrotherapy that sees the players hopping in and out of hot and cold tubs. Stage 2 consists of a dense, whole-food meal at the hotel, followed by continued rehydration and a 20-minute turn in pneumatic massage boots.
And all that is to set them up for the final stage: sleep. Rest is no joke at the tournament. “We try to shoot for eight hours as a minimum, but we try to get these guys at least 10 hours each night and really try to structure our next day schedule around making sure these guys get adequate sleep,” Douglas said, adding that the prolonged recovery period post-game helps wind the players down from the excitement the tournament brings.
Being on home soil helps. For example, at the 2016 world juniors in Finland, Team Canada used inflatable pools for post-game hydrotherapy, whereas the team will be afforded professional setups, equipment and gyms in Montreal and Toronto.
But being at home doesn’t mean the process – workouts, recovery and everything in between – will be easy. Having a few returnees might make Douglas’ job that much easier, though. Douglas pointed to Lawson Crouse and Brayden Point as players who’ve returned after one stint at the WJC and helped drive home the importance of the process to newcomers the second time around. “It’s always nice when you have athletes come back, because they just know,” Douglas said. “They can help the new guys understand the importance of everything we’re doing and everything we put in place.”