In my continuing series of interviewing NHL strength and conditioning coaches, I was able to speak with Nelson Ayotte of the St. Louis Blues. Nelson has been working with the Blues for close to a decade, and he has also worked with a number of athletes from a wide variety of other sports during his time in the industry. His reputation as an industry leader is well-earned.
When Erik Johnson was drafted 1st overall in 2006, St. Louis thought that they had found their next franchise defenseman. The Blues, once a consistent playoff contender (to the tune of 25 consecutive appearances in the postseason beginning in 1979 and ending in 2004), had dealt away cornerstone defenseman Chris Pronger to Edmonton only one year before. Johnson had all of the skills to replace Pronger in St. Louis – the size, the offensive ability, the physical edge, and the hockey sense.