All photos by Sweetest Hockey On Earth’s Kyle M.
On July 1st — the first day of Free Agency — the Capitals dealt 23-year-old Semyon Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche for a first-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft and a second-round selection in either 2012 or 2013. After weeks of speculation that pointed to Varly not returning to Washington and even potentially landing in the KHL, the Avalanche submitted an offer that General Manager George McPhee couldn’t refuse.
“We were hoping to have Semyon back this year and play a full season so we could get that kind of value for him next summer because we knew next summer we were going to have to do something with one of the goaltenders,” McPhee told The Washington Post the day of the deal. “But we got that value now, and given the injury, I’m surprised we got that now.”
Varlamov immediately signed a three-year, $8.5 million contract with the Avs, who will give the young Russian every opportunity possible to be their starter. “Of course, every goalie wants to be No. 1,” Varlamov said when he was introduced to the Colorado media. “Injuries, everything is behind me. I see my future in Colorado right now.”
Meanwhile, the former Cap has good reason to be confident going into next season. Forty or so miles north of the Mason-Dixon line, Varly has been working with nationally-renown physical trainer Steve Saunders in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Saunders’ Power Train Sports Institute has worked with some of the most well-known athletes in this area including the NFL’s Hines Ward, Todd Heap, and James Harrison. He has also trained former Hershey Bear Grant McNeil and Philadelphia Phillies’ ageless-wonder Raul Ibanez.
Varly has been plagued by a variety of injuries during his NHL career, suffering multiple groin pulls over the past two seasons. Saunders has been working with him on strengthening certain muscles around his groin to avoid the injuries recurring in the future.
“[Varlamov is] a very explosive guy,” Saunders explained to ABC27′s Gregg Mace in an exclusive interview. “The way he changes directions, as explosively and as fast as he does, we need to make sure those muscles are strong. And not only those muscles, but the muscles around it. That’s really where he’s had the problem. It’s really not his groin that’s weak. It’s very strong. It’s the muscles on the opposite side of that, that need work because he overuses his groin so much.”
Mace interviewed both Varly and Saunders at Power Train in Lancaster on Friday. The entire interview and photos of the training session can be seen below. Gregg’s full feature will be aired on ABC27 News in Harrisburg on Monday night at 6 and 11 PM. Make sure to check it out.