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This article was published 19/9/2015 (1947 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

He’s bigger, way bigger.

But Mark Scheifele — who reported to training camp 11 pounds heavier than last year and more than 30 pounds heavier than his rookie season — is somehow actually faster this season according to the speed tests the Jets did other day.

How come when the rest of us put on weight we get slower, but when Scheifele puts on weight he gets faster?

Because we just get fatter, while Scheifele gets stronger every summer, thanks to the help of fitness guru and former NHLer Gary Roberts.

"It’s not like I just went and hammered McDonald’s every day," Scheifele grinned Saturday following Day 2 of Jets training camp at the MTS Iceplex.

"I’m obviously eating the right food and doing the right things to maintain my speed while putting on strength as well. It was a good summer for that. I was happy I was able to put on a bunch of muscle and increase that weight...

"The way Gary approaches it is unbelievable. We did DNA testing this year to see what foods digest well in (my) system. I learned a lot of things about my body and the kind of athlete I am."

Scheifele has been a disciple of Roberts for as long as he’s been in the Jets organization, but the change in his body over this past summer has been particularly profound. 

Not only did Scheifele put on some serious weight, but it all appears to have been muscle. When he appeared in street clothes before reporters Saturday he looked a lot more like a small CFL linebacker than the scrawny kid who first showed up in Winnipeg in 2012.

Scheifele spent five days a week with Roberts in Newmarket, Ont., over the summer, working out and eating right. And yes, you heard that right — getting his DNA tested.

"It was a DNA test to test what type of diet you should be on and what type of foods digest well in your system. The per cent that you’re a power athlete compared to an endurance athlete. There’s a very intricate system — half the things I didn’t understand I had to get a nutritionist to tell us.

"But it’s a pretty cool thing to have done and that’s the way Gary is — he’s never satisfied. He always wants to make it better for his athletes and it proves out during the season, I think."

Jets head coach Paul Maurice says young NHLers bulking up over the summer is nothing new, but the way Scheifele has gone about it is exceptional and bodes well for the coming season.

"It’s really interesting — we have these young kids come in and even if we tell them it doesn’t matter, they all go home and try to put on a lot of weight. They all think that’s the key, because they walk into a room and see some enormous men.

"So they all think ‘I’ve got to get bigger and I’ve got to get stronger.’ The way we want them to do it is by eating all the right foods and training really hard. And that’s what’s happened with Mark.

"He’s worked with Gary the last three or four summers. So we know the work ethic is there and his diet is spectacular... His speed numbers in the testing — and you can see it on the ice — he’s faster than he was last year. He’s put on more mass... that’s just Mark becoming a man."

Blake Wheeler — who along with Drew Stafford has been playing on a line with Scheifele through the first two days of camp — was asked if he thinks Scheifele is poised for the breakout season many think is inevitable.

"I certainly hope so —  I’m stuck with him," said Wheeler with a laugh. "He’s made some definite strides. And I think for him it has nothing to do with his ability. He cares so much. I think for a young guy that can sometimes be a problem as much as it is an asset.

"He wants to do well, he works so hard out there that I think sometimes he almost goes a little slower than he would normally if he just clears his head a little bit. 

"But I think his confidence has grown. I think you saw in the second half of last year that he definitely took a step as a player. He was a confident player and he’s as dynamic a centre as you’re going to find in the NHL.

"He seems to have grown into his skin a little bit this year. He’s maturing and the sky is the limit..."

Twitter: @PaulWiecek

Paul Wiecek

Paul Wiecek
Reporter (retired)

Paul Wiecek was born and raised in Winnipeg’s North End and delivered the Free Press -- 53 papers, Machray Avenue, between Main and Salter Streets -- long before he was first hired as a Free Press reporter in 1989.

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