Mantha to put up his dukes
Anthony Mantha led the Detroit Red Wings this season with 24 goals this season, yet the right-winger’s plans for summer involve putting more punch into his game.
The 6-5, 225-pound Mantha will seek out a ring and intends to take up boxing. It was a training path recommended to him by Wings coach Jeff Blashill and GM Ken Holland.
“It’s really more for the grit, maybe to get angry a little bit more,” Mantha explained. “Not necessarily to fight next year. That’s not the message they want. They just want extra grit.”
Blashill believes that Mantha has more to give, and wants him to discover that fact of life by pushing his workout beyond his usual comfort level.
“I think Anthony still has to learn there’s more inside,” Blashill said. “There’s more there. Sometimes my 12 year old, he thinks he works hard and I say to him, ‘No, you’ve got to work harder.’ But he doesn’t know what that’s like. And until you know what it’s like, until you’ve been pushed past that brink, it’s hard to understand that there’s more in you.”
Blashill is of the belief that boxing is type the type of activity the will enable Mantha to challenge himself in all manners of development.
“In Anthony’s case, boxing was something him and I talked about, more from a sense – I think we actually talked about trying to find a psycho boxing teacher who would beat you to a pulp where you don’t think you can – not only physically but just in terms of the training, to where you don’t think you have anything left and he demands another 45 minutes out of you,” Blashill said. “And then you find a way to do that.
“We’ve got four months here in the summer to try to show that there’s a bigger threshold than what he’s ever seen before in terms of enduring that type of pain and stuff like that.”
It’s not a foreign concept to Mantha. He’s stepped into the squared circle before, and has never been shy about dropping the mitts on the ice.
“Two summers ago down here I did some,” Mantha said of his experience with the sweet science. “Maybe five or six or seven summers ago, in juniors I did some.
“It’s actually a good workout program.”
It’s not only the physical side that the Wings believe will be of benefit to Mantha. There are psychological aspects to pugilism that can also open him up to new avenues of growth as both a player and a person.
“Greg Cronin, the assistant (coach) for the Islanders actually told me about it a long time ago,” Blashill said of boxing as a hockey training tool. “It teaches people how to handle fear. Not fear of getting hit necessarily but fear of life and overcoming that, and not having any fear at all. But I also think it brings out aggression.
“I think with Anthony, I just want him to continue to see that there’s more there in terms of pushing himself beyond his comfort level. I’m hoping that in summer training he can push himself beyond his comfort level. If he comes back and has the same year next year that he had this year, not good enough.
“We need guys to make significant steps. There’s teams in this league that last year were out (of the playoffs) and this year are in, and if you look at it, certain individual players made real significant steps. That’s what we need from guys that have that biggest area of growth.”
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