'Hungry' after lost season, Latendresse shows up slimmed down

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 5, 2011 - 2:28 AM

Guillaume Latendresse's big summer has helped to lighten the load.

The Wild power forward won't say how much weight he's lost, but Latendresse was noticeably thinner Friday when he skated with teammates and other NHLers in St. Louis Park.

"It's already behind me," Latendresse said of his frustrating 2010-11 campaign, which was limited to 11 games after he got hurt after arriving in training camp out of shape.

"I've worked my butt off. I worked really hard. Same as last year, I think. The only thing I did better was my nutrition. My nutrition was really a big key this summer. I like to eat. Everybody knows it. Sometimes it can be a battle for me, but I've been good with it and I feel really good on the ice."

Latendresse hired a nutritionist, who worked with him on portion control and limiting carbohydrates. The Wild did its part, too, popping in on him with visits from director of pro scouting Blair Mackasey and strength and conditioning coach Kirk Olson.

He was also motivated when owner Craig Leipold went on KFAN in July and said, "[Latendresse] will not come into camp this year out of shape. ... The statement that he will make when he walks in the locker room when camp opens up ... and he's in shape is going to be a powerful statement of who he is, how hard he wants to win, how hard he wants to play."

Latendresse said Friday: "If I got my salary today, it's because of [Leipold]. He's the boss here and if he was not happy with me last year, he's going to be happy this year."

Latendresse underwent surgery in November to repair two hernias, two torn groin muscles and a torn labrum in his left hip. He missed 58 games, then returned to play three games before being shut down in March.

He began skating again in May and really ramped things up in July, he said.

"I just had to break that line where one day I felt pain and said, 'The heck with it,' " Latendresse said, adding with a laugh, "My leg is a little tired, but I'm feeling good now with my bionic hip.

"Everything's different. New coach, new everything. First impression is going to be important for everybody, not just myself."

And that new coach, Mike Yeo, said Latendresse, who scored 25 goals in 55 games for the Wild two years ago, is critical to the Wild's success.

"That second line ... you need offense from that line," Yeo said. "He's a guy that can produce, and when he's on top of his game, he's real tough to play against.

"He should be very hungry coming off last season."

Yeo on the lines

Yeo has penciled in the Wild's four forward lines to start training camp.

Yeo will load up the No. 1 line, positioning captain Mikko Koivu with newcomers Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley on his wings. Center Matt Cullen will center the second line with Latendresse and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

The third line will be Darroll Powe, Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck, and the fourth line will have interchangeable pieces starting with Colton Gillies, Eric Nystrom and Brad Staubitz.

"I'm a believer in the longer a line has a chance to play together, the more chemistry they can build together," Yeo said. "We won't be too quick to make changes, but at the same time, we won't be too stubborn."

The Wild will open camp with scrimmages Sept. 17 and 18 from 10-11 a.m. at Xcel Energy Center. Both will be free and open to the public.

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