Saturday, September 25, 2010

Berglund rededicates himself to Blues

No. 1 pick in 2006 feels he has point to prove:
"I want to show everybody that I'm a real good hockey player"

ST. LOUIS -- When Patrik Berglund overslept one Saturday morning late last season that caused him to miss out on a team practice, it was the culmination of a season to forget for the Blues' center.

It was a prototypical Sophomore Slump for the Vasteras, Sweden native, who has no issues leaving the 2009-10 season in the rear view mirror.

Berglund, 22, would finish the season with 13 goals and 26 points after a rookie season that saw the 6-foot-4, 215-pound first-round pick (25th overall) in 2006 finish with 21 goals and 47 points. He was also a plus-19 his rookie season; minus-5 a season ago despite netting four game-winners.

There was plenty of hype made for Berglund heading into his sophomore season. The talent and tools were and still are there to be in the upper echelon of centers in the National Hockey League. But it's been a challenge at times to bring out the best in Berglund.

That's why Berglund took the time to alter his living habits and training regimen this past summer. Instead of spending most of his summer in his native land, Berglund decided to stay here, dedicate himself fully and work on being the consummate professional, both on and off the ice.

With much anticipation and plenty to prove, Berglund called it the best decision he's made as far as his hockey career is concerned.

"I always thought I've been working out good and working out hard, but this year, I've been more professional taking care of all the other things, too; eating right, getting the rest and all those things," Berglund said. "In early May when I started to work out, I took care of all this and I felt how my body was changing and how good I felt. I just kept going like that all summer. Obviously I've gotten some good results in camp. It feels really good and I'm giving myself a chance to be really good."

Berglund has carried a hyped-up label with him since the Blues took him with their second of two first-round picks in 2006 (Erik Johnson was taken No. 1 overall that year). The Blues even moved up five spots in the draft so they can get their claws on the tall, lanky center.

But Berglund has been the epitome of inconsistency. Just when it appeared he'd play like he was the best player on the ice, Berglund would fall into some bad habits that flawed his game. It's been the story of his NHL career.

But some good old fashioned soul searching brought Berglund to this conclusion, and he's banking on parlaying a dedicated summer into his best season yet and prove to Blues fans just why he was a No. 1 pick.

"You can tell here in practice and in the (recent Blue-Gold) scrimmage that he's gotten a lot stronger," said Blues forward T.J. Oshie, who's played with Berglund much of the current camp. "I think his confidence has raised quite a bit. For me personally, I've been dealing with him from the very beginning and I think I understand what he can do out there and what he brings to the table. I see what he can do and he can do it. He's been doing it lately. I'm excited to see how he does out there."

Oshie added, "He's always been a big guy and protecting the puck well, but now I think he's big and strong, which will be a huge factor. If he gets his physical game, he's going to be a very dynamic player out there."

Berglund has always been quiet by nature. He goes about his business in a very calm-like manner. But if Blues fans begin to notice a more dedicated version ... one with something to prove, that wouldn't be an incorrect summation.

"I want to show everybody that I'm a real good hockey player and that my teammates and this organization can count on me," Berglund said. "That's what I'm working for. I'm obviously competing against myself to be as good as I can on a daily basis. I obviously want to show everybody I'm a good hockey player and I can contribute to this team."

Berglund did go back home to spend some time with his family and friends in Sweden. But the visit was not as prolonged as previous years.

For those that are 24-7, 365-day hockey junkies, fans could catch Berglund spending a lot of his time at the team's practice facility at the Ice Zone inside St. Louis Mills this summer. It was there that Berglund hit the weights, stayed in shape and lived the proper daily program outlined to him by the Blues' strength and conditioning coach Nelson Ayotte.

"I feel a huge difference from last year," Berglund said. "I could be home in Sweden working out as well if I did what I did and took care of myself. But obviously, it was good to work out here."

Berglund admitted when he first got to North America and the NHL that it was not all glitz and glamour. He expected it to be the high life.

He had to learn the hard way.

"It takes time and you learn from your mistakes. The first time you get here, I don't think you're ready for everything," Berglund said. "There's many games ... if you make the playoffs, all the traveling, how you're going to stay in shape for that long. It's a long stretch and you've got to take care of your body. I think I haven't done that the last two years in a way that you want to perform good every game. If you want to feel good about yourself, you have to do it every day, which I haven't done. That's what I've done so far. The season hasn't started, but I've been doing that all summer and I've seen some good results. I'm going to continue to have really good routines when I'm home and when I'm here now. So far, it feels good."

The expectations are part of this young Blues squad, and those expectations have fallen into the lap of all those younger guys, including Berglund.

"It's part of the challenge a couple of us young guys have is to step up into these new roles and show what we can do and live up to the expectations," Oshie said. "Bergy's dedicated to doing that like the rest of us."

Berglund has a goal and an assist in two preseason games. If the Blues are to assert themselves as contenders in the Western Conference, they need Berglund to establish himself as a top bonafide center.

"I just look to compete at a high level. I want to contribute to the team and I know when I get the chance, that I'm good at what I do," Berglund said. "It's just about competing hard at this level and working hard. If you do that, you will get the chances and obviously you get goals. You will get rewarded and that's what I'm looking for."

1 comment:

  1. Patrik Berglund will have a break-out year for the St. Louis Blues.

    Good luck to the Blues in the 2010-11 hockey season.