In Montreal the Canadiens do not schedule three-mile jogs down Ste. Catherine Street, but they do begin each workout with 20 minutes of trunk-twisting contortions on the ice, featuring pushups, sit-ups, body rolls and belly flops, before anyone dares fire the first practice shot at Goaltender Ken Dryden. "Coincidence or not," Dryden said, "the only day we didn't do the exercises was the same day I pulled a muscle in my leg during practice. Now I hear we may start playing basketball on Mondays, just like the Russians."
"Maybe the Russians woke some people up," said Detroit's general manager, Ned Harkness, "but all we are doing is what Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy and Vince Lombardi did in football. We are trying every possible means to make our players better." The Red Wings have discarded the mindless shoot-and-circle training drills traditional in the NHL for game-situation exercises, and all players take part in a rigid health program.
Along the same thoughtful lines, the Red Wings have installed a new training facility and have undertaken the most imaginative scouting program in the NHL. Last year Harkness decided to scout the Olympics at Sapporo, so Scout Jack Paterson took a cram course in basic Japanese and flew off to find the next Gordie Howe. He returned with 24-year-old Thommie Bergman, the top defenseman on Sweden's national team. Quick with his stick, strong on his feet and a thousand times more aggressive than the normal Swedish hockey player, Bergman proved immediately that he could play in the NHL—a full three periods a game. As Philadelphians await the return of their prodigal stepsons, that is the kind of fitness they hope someday to get—and fully deserve.