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Caps developmental nutrition

Back when I was working on a story about Alex Ovechkin this winter, I asked a local restaurant owner what the Russian machine liked to eat.

"The other day for lunch," he offered as an example, "[Ovechkin] had fried calamari and fried mozzarella sticks."

When you're Alex Ovechkin, perhaps random fried foodstuffs makes an acceptable lunch. When you're a 20-year old kid trying to make an NHL roster or impress a front-office type, you might take a bit more care with your diet. And thus, the dilemma of a Braden Holtby. The goalie prospect - in Ballston for the Caps Development Camp this week - tries to keep excess sugars out of his diet. Last season, he lived in an apartment in Hershey. Right above an ice-cream shop.

"King Cone," he said. "I ate there twice. Once when my parents came down, and then once we went in there with the [Calder] Cup and filled the Cup up with ice cream. It was awesome. We just had about 10 guys hop behind the counter and start filling it."

Even that, though, was more a photo-op than a dessert binge. When Holtby goes back to Saskatchewan, his diet raises a few eyebrows.

"People make fun of me when I go home," he said. "My parents are like 'Mix in a piece of cake or something,' "

A couple hours before we talked, Holtby and several dozen other Caps prospects were given a 30-minute seminar on nutrition. The session, led by team consultant Sue Saunders, could have doubled as a advertisement for Whole Foods. Saunders told the players they need to eat whole grains and organic dairy products, that they should explore green tea and Kashi products and Greek yogurt and almond milk, that they need to be buying Omega-3 fortified eggs, that some people think hummus "sounds kind of gross," but that it's a delicious snack.

This, needless to say, is a bit different than what Bruce Boudreau was taught as a prospect.

"When we were younger, the talk was pasta the day of the game and steak the night before the game," the coach said. "Things have changed. That was about as basic as it was. You take the Brooks Laichs of the world, they're very conscientious about what they put in their bodies."

Take Joe Finley, for example. The 6-foot-8 defenseman missed most of the past season with a hand injury, and he said he spent part of his time on the shelf learning about nutrition. Which is why he could lecture me about soluble fiber and Lecithin, and why he asked three consecutive questions to Saunders after her presentation, including one about whether you can ever have too much dairy, and another about what alcohol you'd want to drink as part of a nutritious diet. You know, just in case.

Finley said he added 15 pounds to his frame while actually decreasing his body fat while he was out. He was eating up to 12 eggs a day, six raw in his protein shakes, until someone pointed out "you don't have to be Rocky." And he significantly upped his fiber intake, which teammates have noticed, since he's been "lighting up the weight room, kind of stinking 'em out a little bit," Finley joked.

But these players seem to be legitimately on-board with this nutrition thing. Finley packs organic chocolate milk as a snack and orders brown rice instead of white. Holtby goes to a Hershey farmer's market every week.

"It's something you have to understand," he said. "That's your job, and if that's all I have to do [to make the NHL], it's pretty easy."

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 12, 2010; 5:18 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Comments

Gordie Howe never ate Omega-3 enriched eggs during his playing days, and he did just fine.

Posted by: RojoJohnson | July 12, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

But just think of how much more awesome he would have been if he did!

Posted by: dcunitedfan3 | July 12, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Major brands always give out their popular brand samples (in a way it is similar to coupons) I alway use qualityhealth to get mine http://bit.ly/9UAtgc enjoy your free samples

Posted by: bidzill | July 13, 2010 2:07 AM | Report abuse

Major brands always give out their popular brand samples (in a way it is similar to coupons) I alway use qualityhealth to get mine http://bit.ly/9UAtgc enjoy your free samples

Posted by: bidzill | July 13, 2010 2:07 AM | Report abuse

"What alcohol you'd want to drink as part of a nutritious diet."

Never put gin on your Kashi. It ruins the taste. Vodka only, the breakfast of champions.

Posted by: laboo | July 13, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't Braden get it?? If you eat more ice cream, you get bigger and you take up more of the net. What a goofball!!!

Posted by: coolcraig | July 13, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

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