It would be an understatement to say that Doug Davidson’s life has changed drastically since he graduated from Queen’s in 2013.
Since leaving Kingston with a degree in Physical and Health Education, Davidson has endured a journey that has seen him to work alongside ex-Maple Leaf Gary Roberts and with the Pittsburgh Penguin’s affiliate team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Now, the Queen’s alum has found himself as the strength and conditioning coach for the NHL’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Davidson said.
A member of the rugby team for his four years as an undergraduate, Davidson came to Queen’s in 2009 without a clear sense of where he wanted his degree to take him. Despite having aspirations of taking his rugby abilities international, Davidson found a new love while on campus. After first year, Davidson’s program allowed him to immerse himself in the world of strength and conditioning.
For the next three years, he spent countless hours mentoring varsity athletes on men’s hockey, rugby, and football teams.
“I was basically spending 15 hours a week in the weight room just coaching varsity athletes and I just loved it,” Davidson said.
After graduation, Davidson moved on to work with a player from his favourite Toronto Maple Leafs. At the Gary Roberts High Performance Centre, Davidson began his job training minor hockey players. Over time, he worked with high profile NHLers like Steven Stamkos and Connor McDavid.
Following his stint with Roberts, Davidson found a position working as the strength and conditioning trainer for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ affiliate minor league team. While the position was likely the most important factor in getting to Vegas, Davidson knows the differences between minor league and professional hockey will be drastic.
“There’s a lot more travel,” Davidson said of the biggest change from the AHL to the NHL. “The AHL is kind of really nice from the strength and conditioning standpoint because more of the games are on the weekend so you kind of got a full week to build up to do a bit more off-ice training.”
One of the biggest changes in the NHL is how players treat their bodies. With games played nearly every other night, Davidson knows the coaches will be relying on him to keep the team in tip-top shape.
“It’s helping guys warm up, helping guys with their daily routines, running workouts on a daily basis and then game-days it’s a bit more hands-off,” Davidson said. “[We’re] just doing everything we can to make sure guys are 100% ready to go on game day.”
While his job will certainly be a new experience even for such an experienced professional, the desert setting of Nevada will be a stark contrast to the streets of Pennsylvania. It’s a change he’s ready to embrace.
“Once you kind of get away from [the strip] and to where people actually live, there’s some really nice areas,” Davidson said. “I’m pretty excited.”
And while Davidson is only on a three-year contract with the Golden Knights, he hopes to take the values he’s learned from Queen’s and his other past experiences to Las Vegas to make the most of his opportunity.
“If you work hard, you’re a good guy, you do a good job, you’ll do just fine…it’s an awesome job, I love doing it.”
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