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Enforcer in training: Wings' Abdelkader taking boxing classes

Jul 30, 2010, 12:23 PM EDT

justinabdelkader1.jpgA player’s off-season workouts are generally pretty intense. Depending on the type of role you play or the style of play a guy has can depict what it is exactly that they’ll do to make themselves better. For a player like Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, honing his skills as an agitating and physical forward sometimes means having to do things a bit out of the norm to prepare for a season, like taking boxing classes as Mlive.com’s Ansar Khan tells us.

He’s not trying to become a heavyweight, he just wants to be better prepared to fight in 2010-11, which will be his first full NHL season. Playing an abrasive style of hockey that can agitate opponents, Abdelkader will be challenged occasionally, especially on a team that lacks an enforcer and does not have many players who fight.

“It’s a good upper-body workout and, at the same time, you’re getting a few pointers,” Abdelkader said. “You learn technique, how to throw proper punches, when to be aggressive, when not to be aggressive.

“If you’re going to fight, you’ve got to know how to fight. I’m not going to go around looking for it, but if it’s going to happen, you’ve got to prepare yourself for it.”

While much hasn’t been really seen of Abdelkader’s sandpaper-like ways on the ice, provided he’s playing a bigger role in Detroit next year it’ll become more evident. In 2008-2009 with Grand Rapids in the AHL he logged 102 penalty minutes in 78 games with the Griffins. His transformation from what he did in college with Michigan State to the pros is intriguing.

Abdelkader scored one of the biggest goals in Michigan State history scoring the National Championship-clinching goal against Boston College in 2007. Going from being a scorer in college to an agitator in the pros isn’t uncommon as sometimes guys will adapt their game any way they can to make sure they stay in the game. For the Red Wings, having a regular skater that can contribute, help settle scores and stir things up is something they really haven’t had since the days of Martin Lapointe and Darren McCarty.

Some players have come and gone briefly filling that need as it arose (Dallas Drake for instance), but having one guy do that year in and year out is something else entirely. Whether or not the “Afrogator” can handle the workload remains to be seen, but his tenacity is certainly something working out to his benefit.

  1. PolegoJim - Jul 31, 2010 at 1:54 AM

    This kids going to be a force.

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