Matt Hendricks has a pretty extensive pregame warmup routine. Apparently what you don’t see is just as important as what you do see.
Along with his physical stretches, Hendricks has a mental exercise that he takes himself through — his “five keys to success” as he calls them.
In this video from the Caps’ Web site, Hendricks explains his method.
“So as I’m doing these stretches, I’m thinking, I’m going through, I do, like, a five keys to success, you know? What I need to go in that game to be successful. Work hard is one, play smart, try to get three shots on net, try to get five hits, and then the last one is always make sure you’re having fun.
“With each key I say a couple of things that are going to help me work hard. Stopping and starting, you know, back checking all the time. What’s gonna help me play smart? Not getting too emotional, always being in the right position. Shots. Try to shoot the puck every time you can, try to bring it to the net every time you can, when you shoot stop in front of the net. Just dumb reminders. Finishing your checks, keep your feet moving when you finish.
“Then I go to the bench, I got my leg up on the bench and that’s what you’re seeing. Then I go through a couple ABC’s, like get into the game early by giving a hit, getting a hit, getting a shot on net first shift. I try to do that. Then B is just try to concentrate on being strong on your feet, strong on the puck, strong on the walls. Then C is just shoot from everywhere every time you get a chance.”
He lost me a little on the ABC’s, but clearly he knows the importance of mental strength.
The idea of keys to success runs in the Caps family. Leonsis has his own “five keys” for happiness, although I’m fairly certain he doesn’t stretch while reciting them.