Leafs Playlist: Songs For Winning
My giddy optimism suffered a minor blow yesterday when I walked past the Leafs' weight room and heard Toto.
Don't misunderstand. "Africa" is a sweet song. It still gets played at weddings and dinner parties. It's been covered more than a dozen times over the past three decades and, truth be told, I once listened to it 48 times in a row.
But that was like in 1985. I was pre-pubescent, confused and lonely. More important, I was not a professional hockey player.
The Leafs take training very seriously. Anthony Belza, the team's strength and conditioning coach, customizes programs for every player. Not long ago, I saw Fredrik Sjostrom rehabbing his shoulder by extending a dumbbell while sprawled supine on the floor.
It made me wince.
You know why there's a towering wall of glass in the MCC gym? Because studies show athletes will work up to 20 per cent harder when they are bathed in natural light.
About a month ago, Mike Komisarek gave me a tour of the MCC dressing room. It is a state-of-the-art practice facility, the envy of other NHL general managers. From the stacks of free weights to the biorhythm-reading gadgets to a treadmill submerged in a cavernous water tank, everything about the room screams, "Let's get ready to rumble!"
Now to be fair, I have no idea about how or why "Africa" was playing gently yesterday. It could have been an anomaly. Mind you, I’m pretty sure I also heard Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" a few minutes earlier.
So I have compiled a special Leafs Playlist. Feel free to add or subtract from the following mix, picking songs that will inspire hard-work and victory. If this list expands into triple-digits, I might even buy* an iPod for the room as a present from Leafs Nation.
(*Pending official Toronto Star expense approval.)
1. "Welcome To The Jungle" – Guns N' Roses
2. "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" – Arcade Fire
3. "More Than A Feeling" – Boston (See the comment below from Geoff Read. He's right.)
4. "Love Removal Machine" – The Cult
5. "Bohemian Like You" – The Dandy Warhols
6. "Long Train Runnin'" – The Doobie Brothers
7. "This Is A Call" – Foo Fighters
8. "Bittersweet Dirt Off Your Shoulder" – Jay Z vs. The Verve
9. "See The Light" – The Jeff Healey Band
10. "All These Things That I've Done" – The Killers
11. "Travelling Riverside Blues" – Led Zeppelin
12. "Rollin" – Limp Bizkit
13. "Pay To Play" – Nirvana
14. "Too Young" – Phoenix
15. "New World Man" – Rush
Please, just no more of this:
UPDATE (9:32 a.m.): Just got an email from Anthony Belza, the Leafs strength and conditioning coach. He writes:
Anyone’s iPod can be playing at any given time but Dion usually runs the stereo. If the team is in the gym, it's usually loud and songs get repeated often. By the time the guys are on the ice, the playlist is still running – I'm guessing that is what was happening when you were here.
I've heard of some obscure research suggesting music from the Baroque period is optimal for strength gains and that loud rock is detrimental. (Seriously.) I don't believe it nor have I bothered to check if this research really exists. When it's loud and the selection gets guys in a good state of mind, they enjoy the workout more and they train a little harder.
PHOTO: TARA WALTON/TORONTO STAR