CALGARY – The first thing Flames players see when they enter the weight room at Saddledome is a signed photo of Delon Dobby.
It was posted a year ago by the coaching staff as a tribute to the Team Fitness Test Champion.
“It’s not the most beautiful face you can look at when you walk every morning,” the 24-year-old winger laughed. “But I think we’ll leave it this year.”
In fact, they’ll outperform veterans Trevor Lewis and Michael Backlund, as Dobby reiterated as Flame’s toughest earlier this week.
And as proud of his status as a poster boy, that comes at a cost.
He said about the ammunition that is often used in friendship is fire.
“I don’t like him. I hear this quote 100 times a year from guys who tell me that.”
Count Daryl Sutter as one of the few who wouldn’t give Dobby the gears to follow through on the team’s demands to improve his fitness.
Sutter singled out how shocked he was by the team’s poor physical fitness when he returned to the organization in March 2021.
The coach sent every player home that summer with orders to focus on improving fitness levels, a mantra he repeated after last season as well.
“We are much better than last year and last year we were much better than the year before,” Sutter said.
“Dillon has been a leader in this regard since he got here.”
While Dobb respects, listens and learns to the team’s veterans, he takes great pride in helping set an example for others in fitness, and setting him up in the dressing room.
“Our team is not worried about who is in the top three, it is just important that everyone performs and improves a little,” he said.
“This is the biggest compliment to our coaches and the programs they send.”
Cochrane producer, Ab. Dube chose to stay in Calgary each summer to work under Flames’ Director of Athletic Performance, Ryan Van Astin and assistant strength and conditioning coach, Rick Davis.
They’ve helped the 5-foot-11, 185-pound winger get bigger and stronger annually, as has been his mandate since being drafted by Flames in the second round in 2016.
So what does all this mean, other than invite his teammates?
“The most important thing is that it gives you a lot of confidence at the start of the year you put in the work,” said Dube, who hit a career high last year with 18 goals and 32 points in 79 games.
“I just wanted my numbers to improve a little bit from last year. RVA has had my fitness numbers since I was 18 now, and every year they are getting better.”
Sutter says one key this season will be in his group of 23-28 who have had professional years, taking it one step further this season.
“I want to be the best player I can be with the team no matter where they play with me,” said the emerging goal-scoring sensation.
“I have seen all my years all over the place: center, left wing, right wing, first to fourth line. I need my game to excel in any role because we have a lot of moving pieces. I have to be ready for anyone.”
Dobby began camp Thursday on the third streak with Backlund and Blake Coleman, playing a comforting role as the versatile striker.
What some may be wondering is whether he might eventually be able to thrive in the right wing of the second line that this organization so desperately seeks to find.
“I’m comfortable taking it anywhere,” Sutter said. “We moved him to death sentence last year and we want to keep pushing him forward.”
“From February, in the playoffs, Dillon has been a very good player for us. He is a versatile kid and as he gets older and more mature he takes everything in his game a step further. These are the key players for our team. We have to see improvement from these players as we go forward. “.
small world question
One thing Dobby was ready for Friday was a question about his time with the budding Canadian team he was captain of in 2018, which came under scrutiny after sexual assault allegations made in a lawsuit filed in London, Ont. Hockey Canada settled the lawsuit earlier this year, but the story has since drawn national attention, leading to calls for change at the sport’s highest levels. The NHL is independently conducting an investigation into the incident.
“I have cooperated in any way possible and will continue to cooperate,” he said.
“I did everything in my power to cooperate.”
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