The last time we heard from Steven Stamkos he had re-signed with the Lightning for 5-years and roughly $37.5 million. The Lightning center from day one wanted to stay in Tampa, the only organization he has ever known. Tampa Bay made a deep playoff run last year to the Eastern Conference Finals before finally falling to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins. The organization looks to build off last year and Stamkos knows that the Lightning won’t be surprising any opponent this year with the amount of talent they have. Stamkos discusses his rigorous training and diet regimen under Gary Roberts this off-season in the following interview with The Fan 590 in Toronto as well as the thrill of being named the cover of EA Sports NHL, a video game he has been playing since he was six years old. Steven Stamkos joined The Fan 590 in Toronto with Joey Vendetta to discuss hockey players of this day and age being in shape 365 days a year, when he started getting into fitness and training with Gary Roberts, dealing with the pressures of struggling as a first overall selection, how he sees the Tampa Bay Lightning season going this year and being the cover of EA Sports NHL.
What do you think of hockey players being in shape 24-7 and 365 days a year now? It’s gotten so competitive?
“Oh it has and that’s just kind of the lifestyle of any professional athlete now I think with the increased fitness level in every athlete. For me hockey…guys are coming into camp in great shape and if you are not teams are going to have something to say to you. There’s really like you said no off-season. You got guys if you don’t make the playoffs you either playing in the world championships or you are coming home and you have a couple of weeks off then you are getting back at it. For the guys that go deep like we were fortunate enough to this year you almost feel guilty taking those couple of weeks off because you know the other guys have been training. At the end of the day it’s a whole year thing and throughout the year you are training as well, so you are trying to stay in the best shape possible. Like you said kids are coming up now that have been training since 13,14,15 years old now. They are monsters.”
When did you start getting into fitness? When did you start getting serious about fitness and nutrition when you started training with Gary Roberts?
“Well I think the nutrition aspect is really when I got serious when I started working out with Gary two summers ago. When you are 13 and 14 I decided that hockey was something that I wanted to take seriously. I worked out with a trainer in the area who was Randy Smith, who was great for me and got the ball rolling. When I got an opportunity to play with Gary in Tampa my rookie year and develop that relationship in the summer time that’s when it really took off, but where Gary is so different from other trainers is the nutrition aspect and how much he preaches that to everyone he works with and it may not be the best tasting food, but it’s a commitment you have to make and you have to stay dedicated to it. You see the results in your body and you feel great.”
When you were the first overall pick at 18/19 years old how did you feel with all the pressure and things not going well? What was going through your mind because I know how competitive you are?
“I think it bothers you because you know what you are capable of personally and you have those goals set for yourself and when you are not producing I am the hardest critic on myself. I think if you ask any guys in the league they would probably say the same thing, but I think it may help being down in Tampa when things weren’t going as well. It’s not your typical hockey market where you have 30 cameras in your face asking you questions after every practice, so maybe that helped, but I think I was fortunate when I was going through that to have guys like Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi and Martin St.Louis. We had a pretty veteran group of guys that have all been in that situation at one time or another and they were able to help me. I kind of took off half way through the rookie year and got an opportunity to play more and I kind of haven’t looked back since then.”
How do you see the Tampa Bay Lightening this year because you are not going to be able to sneak up on anybody?
“Well that’s the thing that is the challenge for the group of guys this year in Tampa is that we kind of set the bar now. We are not going to be able to like you just said surprise any teams. We are going to get their [opponent’s] best every night and the past two years don’t mean anything now. We’re a new team. We have a new found confidence in ourselves and we showed that in the playoffs and we gotta find a way to stay consistent. That’s the thing I thought we really came together as a group in the playoffs and we had to be fast. We had a lot of guys and this was their first playoff experience and we got as far as we did. We now have that as playoffs experience and we gotta use that moving forward. It’s going to be a challenge. This upcoming year is going to be tougher than last year because teams know what to expect now when they play us now.”
You are the EA Sports NHL 2012 cover? How did that feel when you got that phone call?
“Oh I was very excited. That was something. I really thought I would never be on the cover of the game. I was honored they picked me out of all the guys in the NHL. It’s a game I have played since I was six years old and got as a christmas gift every year and always created yourself in the game and never did you think you would actually be on the cover, so I thought that was a really exciting time for me and I can’t wait for the game to come out.”