There are few members of the Maple Leafs coaching staff spoken of with quite the level of hushed awe as Barb Underhill, so yesterday’s profile from the Lightning website—she works for both teams and was originally brought into the NHL by Steve Yzerman—felt like an interview with a near-mythical figure. If you’ve ever wondered what, exactly, Underhill does when she “fixes” someone’s skating, this piece goes into some really fascinating detail:
“I’m always looking for the blade,” Underhill said. “In every sport there’s a sweet spot, and the blade has a sweet spot. And so when you hit it, there’s no tension on your body because you’re completely supported. When you are not on the right part of your blade or if your blade is not quite under you, then there is friction and so there’s going to be tension in your body. So I look to find that perfect balance point for a player where the skating becomes effortless, it becomes easy, it becomes more efficient, where they’re able to accelerate faster because their body’s lined up over the right part of the blade. So breaking things down in slow motion is super, super important to be able to see those details.”
Usually, any quote from a hockey coach of any type sounds more like it was spit out by a neural net trained on motivational manuals than excerpted from a physics textbook, but Underhill clearly loves talking about the science of skating. If you’ve ever wondered what exactly she did to turn Brayden Point from an average skater to, well, Brayden Point, she’ll tell you—it’s apparently all about his heels.
(She also has a Calder Cup ring, thanks to her time working with the Norfolk Admirals, which is an obvious sign that the Leafs need to step up their shit.)
Have some links for your Sunday morning:
Dermott opens up about ‘nerve-racking’ Maple Leafs negotiations
The weight of a hard, flat salary cap. The influx of bargain free agents. The lack of arbitration rights or eye-popping statistics. And the hockey player’s natural craving for certainty in wildly uncertain times. All of it added up to Travis Dermott signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs for significantly less than most believe he is worth.
10 NHL teams living in salary cap hell (and how they may escape)
A crowded cap left more UFAs on the board than normal and forced a surge in minimum-wage contracts. In-season manoeuvres could suffer with a lack of breathing room, too. Here’s a look at 10 NHL teams strained by this reality — and how they might get out.
Jim Montgomery, now sober, gets 2nd NHL shot with St. Louis Blues
This COVID-19 calendar year — a year many of us want to forget — has been life-changing for Jim Montgomery.
Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first Black player, has spent his life doing ‘what needed to be done’ | The Star
Whether it be a barbershop or the hockey rink, Willie O’Ree has spirit of his great-great-grandfather, a former slave.
Flames Sign RW Josh Leivo - Matchsticks and Gasoline
The Flames continue adding forward depth