Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Speed Puts Duo a Step Ahead Hagelin, Rust Use Pace to Terrorize Defenders

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Speed Puts Duo a Step Ahead Hagelin, Rust Use Pace to Terrorize Defenders

Article excerpt

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Ask any national NHL voice, and they're likely to list Carl Hagelin among the five fastest skaters in the league. Phil Kessel and Bryan Rust are probably on the periphery of that conversation, but Hagelin is a known speedster.

On skates.

Take those off, and the Penguins' speedy left winger doesn't feel nearly as fleet of foot. In fact, he has never been a fan of timed races. For good reason.

"I was pretty bad at running the 40-yard dash," Hagelin said. "I was more of a long-distance guy."

The idea that Hagelin is fast is hardly revelatory. Ditto for Penguins coach Mike Sullivan wanting to play a speed game. NBC's Pierre McGuire could cram both of those into one sentence during a national TV broadcast.

What can make for an interesting conversation, though, is why Hagelin's so fast, and why, in this system, does that matter as much as it does?

"I played a lot of soccer growing up, but I don't think my speed really developed until I was 17," Hagelin said after Sunday's practice at the Toyota Sports Complex. "I was always quick, but I didn't really explode after my first four strides. Back then my first three or four strides were really good, then it just went downhill from there. Everyone caught up to me because I was small. I didn't have the big legs and the muscles you need to be a good skater. As I grew a couple inches, I did a lot of leg work. It all just caught up to me."

That leg work included running hills with his older brother, Bobbie, and directing his focus in the gym toward explosiveness. Hagelin said he set out on this journey because he was unhappy with his ability to keep up.

"I was quick," Hagelin said of his late teens. "I wasn't really fast."

Rust could relate. He recalled his junior year at Notre Dame, noticing that he'd always be a stride or three ahead of his teammates.

The previous summer, Rust had adopted a new training program, one focused heavily on plyometrics. Winning end-of-practice sprints wasn't the only reward for Rust.

His goal-scoring jumped from 11 total in his first two years to 15 as a junior and 17 as a senior.

"It was something that I talked with my coaches at school about," Rust said. …

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