Caps’ rookie camp attendee Nick Tabisz drew inspiration from a surprising source this summer during his maturation as a hockey player.
The 24 year old participated in the Capitals’ development camp in July, and at the end was asked back for rookie camp in September. He said he was actually surprised when he got the invite– he thought he hadn’t played well during development camp, but the NHL organization thought otherwise, and Tabisz was excited about the invitation.
But, he admitted to On Frozen Blog Sunday, he realized he had a lot of work to do between the two camps based on what he observed in July. Much of that realization came from watching current Capitals train that week. Tabisz remembers seeing one Capital out on the track during the prospects’ track day, and said watching that player work was eye-opening.
“I got by a lot on just talent in college hockey,” Tabisz said. “I didn’t realize how hard you had to work to be a pro athlete in any sport, really. … There were a lot of guys, a lot of the actual Capital[s] guys this summer here working, and I saw how hard they worked, and kind of a light bulb went off in my head and said, ‘This is how hard you have to work.’”
So he began to make changes. Tabisz had been working all summer at a golf course to earn money, but the job required him getting up at 4 am, which drained him for any kind of training the rest of the day. He decided to restructure his schedule and increase his skating time.
“After I got back from that camp, I was like, I’m going to work two more weeks, and then I’m quitting—I’m just going to train the rest of this summer for this [rookie] camp,” Tabisz said.
He’s also close to the current Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers back home, so Tabisz would hang out there and got to witness how hard those athletes trained. Tabisz also knew the head equipment guy for the Packers and said he learned a lot from talking and listening to him about how hard professional athletes work.
One area Tabisz says didn’t get a complete makeover was his eating habits.
“I’m a terrible eater,” he admitted.
He did, however, cut out fast food—a legendary change, though probably not the best news economically for the local McDonalds, judging from Tabisz’s description:
“If you ever heard anything from guys I used to play with, I used to hit up McDonalds two, three times a day,” Tabisz said. “I could tell you the whole menu, I could tell you prices. It’s embarrassing, I know.”
Tabisz entered the summer on a high note. Before spending a few games with the Capitals’ ECHL affiliate in South Carolina, he scored the game-winning goal on a power play for St. Norbert College in the Division III national championship—a contest which their opponent entered having won 18 straight games. Tabisz, a defenseman, scored four goals in five games in that playoff run.
Tabisz told OFB he actually had hit a slump before playoffs, and his team was unsure how good the postseason run would be, especially since the power play hadn’t been productive.
But one of Tabisz’ friends told him later that the friend predicted “Biszner” would manage to “come up big in playoffs.”
“It was good to hear that, that those guys had confidence that I would do my job,” Tabisz said. “I think clutch, if you had to define it, would be just taking advantage of an opportunity, ‘cause I think a lot of people get opportunities, they just can’t finish them.”
Sounds like he’s ready to do that again this week in rookie camp.