THEO PECKHAM: SOUND MIND AND BODY?

Theo Peckham had a good laugh on Jason Gregor’s Show on TEAM 1260 today, and it wasn’t about his listed weight of 235 pounds in the Edmonton Oilers media guide, although the guffaws were most certainly related to it.

"I love cheeseburgers," admitted Peckham, who was no nearer his listed weight of 235 pounds last season than I am to an appearance on the cover of GQ Magazine. "I love burgers . . . just any type of burger, anything. I haven’t had on in a about two-and-half weeks and it’s killing me."

I don’t know exactly what Peckham weighed last year, but my best guess is he tipped the scales closer to 250 on his six-foot-two frame than 235. A love of cheeseburgers will do that, even to a pro athlete like Peckham, who gets more exercise in a week during the NHL season than most of us do in a full year.

While a guy who writes about hockey might be able to get away with that – I know a scribe the same height as Peckham who arrived in Edmonton in 1989 weighing 220 pounds and bent the beams at 315 in 2010 after years of touring NHL restaurants – a guy who plays hockey for a living cannot.

That became apparent to me every time I saw Peckham in the Oilers dressing room this season – fat is fat no matter how you dress it up – and I’m hoping it’s clear to Peckham because it needs to be if he intends on staying in Edmonton’s plans beyond the one-year contract for $1.075 million he just signed.

There’s still a place for fat guys pushing three bills or more up in the press box. Down on the ice? Not so much.

TIME TO GET SERIOUS

It’s not all about weight, of course. Body composition and a whole bunch of other measures play into the equation, but the bottom line and square one for a limited, third-pairing defenseman like Peckham, who is a better athlete than most people think he is, is he has to be in shape.

Peckham, only 24 as he gets ready for his fifth season with the Oilers, needs to be leaner to give himself a chance. Of course, Peckham has to be combative, smart and play a simple game, but everything for a naturally big-bodied guy like Theo begins with being in shape.

To that end, Peckham is spurning his desires for those big patty stacks in favor of workout sessions with fitness guru Norm Lacombe, who looks like he’s in better shape now, in his 50s, than when he played. That’s the first step in Peckham getting back to the form he showed in 2010-11 before his struggles of last season.

With just a one-year deal in place, Peckham can’t afford another season like he had in 2011-12, when he played just 54 games and was made a healthy scratch by Tom Renney with regularity. The shape he was in and confidence issues played a significant role in that.

Touted as a comer destined to be stay-at-home, shot-blocking shutdown type after 2010-11, Peckham is today behind Ryan Whitney, Jeff Petry, Ladislav Smid, Nick Schultz, Justin Schultz and Corey Potter on the defense depth charts going into 2012 training camp. He doesn’t have more room to slip if he intends being part of the plan moving forward.

BACK ON THE HORSE

If Peckham commits to getting in shape and back down to 230 pounds or so, as he said was his goal in his interview with Gregor, he’s got a chance to be what a lot of people thought he might become just a year ago.

The other thing I see with Peckham, as I mentioned, has been lack of confidence. With the kind of tough, physical game Peckham plays, and has to play, I trace that back to a fight he lost to Nathan Horton at Rexall Place Feb. 27, 2011. Peckham got KOd in that scrap. He hasn’t been the same since.

While it’s a lot tougher to do than it is to say, Peckham has to find a way to put that fight behind him and regain the edge he played with. If you’re going to step up on guys as Peckham must, and if you’re going to be the antagonistic, yappy needler he is, then, rest assured, somebody isn’t going to like it and the gloves are going to come off.

That’s a bell Peckham has to be willing to answer again. Perhaps a chat with assistant coach Kelly Buchberger might come in handy on that front. Bucky often took a licking and always found a way to dust himself off and come back for more. Buchberger always got back on the horse. Peckham must, as well.

If Peckham can get his body and his head straight, there’s a player there.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

  • justDOit

    Ray Whitney stated in an interview on TSN that he took a little over a week off from training. That kind of commitment will earn you a long career in the NHL.

    Teddy? Not so much. Why bother to get so far out of shape, just to have to work hard to get back into it? Wouldn’t it be wiser to maintain as much as you could, and then build on your conditioning each off season?

  • Stocc

    I think Peckham’s IQ is fine. He played well in 2010-2011.

    Penalties for defencemen usually come as a result of excessive aggressiveness, or being beat to the puck/beat through the zone. If you’re fat and slow, you’re going to get beat, and that’s when you start hooking and slashing.

  • Stocc

    My issue with TEDDY has always been his hockey IQ, not his weight. I feel that training camp and perhaps the first 2 months of the season will be a huge tell tale sign of what his future holds in the city. Peckham is at best a bottom pairing D man in the NHL. To be an effective bottom paring D, he needs to focus on not only being in shape to be physical, but also being more defensively sound than he has been in the past. The Oilers cannot afford bad penalties that leak goals if they want to be in the playoffs. Peckham can surely block shots, but his first pass out of the zone and many of his failed clearing attempts have made me question his ability to think the game. He’s got the tools to become an effective – Matt Greene esque – player that many winning teams need. Whether he becomes that will be made by his ability to not only through crushing hits, but to play the defense effectively. Smid was a project that paid off after being a high draft pick. Peckham may not have that upside, but he should be taking lessons from Smid regularly throughout the first half of the season.

  • Meh. We’re talking about the 8th defenceman on the 29th place team. The only question I have regarding Peckham is whether he can clear waivers throughout the season. If that $1.075 million is on a one-way contract, then it’s more likely.

  • You can easily get in shape in 8 weeks. 25lbs in 8 weeks is reasonably possible, though Theo will really have to watch his diet as he exercises hard.

    If he’s committed, the results will show – and quick.

    What I don’t understand is, after being surrounded by guys like Horcoff, Gagner, and Hall, how he isn’t in better shape already. The first two are fitness freaks, and Hall is close (and perhaps already is there, if he drops the KD.)

  • Copperblueandwhite

    Glass half-empty kind of guy?

    No, 3/4 empty when it comes to a marginal player not in peak condition 8-10 weeks from training camp…I’m with Chambers on this one:

    “If Peckham is actually out of shape, he’s an idiot,”

  • I can’t understand how an athlete in any pro sport today, or aspiring to a pro sport, isn’t in peak physical condition (barring injuries.) It’s a key part of their job to stay in shape, they get tonnes of exercise with just practice, and if you have that kind of money, you can hire a chef and eat healthy AND well at the same time.

    Cheeseburgers can wait until you’ve retired. Ask Charles Barkley.

    • Peckham is in the wrong sport for eating badly. Baseball players still eat junk. I remember watching a Blue Jays story on sportsnet during spring training and the Tampa Bay Lightning visited their clubhouse in Dunedin. They swapped stories about pre game meals and the Blue Jays talked about how before games the pregame meal was barbequed burgers, hot dogs, etc. Stamkos and Purcell were both shocked and said they ate plain chicken and pasta and if they tried the Jays pregame meal Roberts and Boucher would kick their collective @sses.

      I agree with everyone else here, if you’re being paid millions of dollars to entertain people with the highest quality of pro sport, no matter what the sport you better be in the best shape possible. People shell out millions of dollars to fill stadiums and pay cable bills/internet fees to watch these guys play. They don’t have the luxury of Joe Normal, people can say it isn’t fair but it’s not exactly fair they get seven to eight figures to play a game.

  • vetinari

    I hope that he rounds into a shutdown defender this season but I would have been fine if the Oilers would have let him walk and test the UFA market because I doubt that anyone would have thrown him a $1M+/per year contract.

    I suspect (and hope) that two or three out of Peckham, Potter, Plante or Sutton are cashed in for a better option at defence but I doubt that will happen.

    Also, given the uncertainty over the 2012-13 season starting on time, the Oilers may be content with 7 or 8 defenceman in the mix until training camp sorts them out.

  • Toro

    I wonder if there’s any chance the oilers try Peckham on forward on the wing like big Dustin Buff did in Chicago before he moved to D in Atlanta,, I think that might be a decent idea to try out seeing how were getting full on D and were planning on adding one more D, try it out in training camp what’s worst that could happen?

  • John Chambers

    I would be amazed that this guy, clinging by a thread to an NHL job, would be cavalier about fitness and nutrition, or that the organization would give him a million dollars if he had a spare tire around his waist.

    Fit: a million dollar salary with a potential to soon be set for life financially. Fat: a career making $250k a year in the AHL, and a second career as a realtor making appearances at summer hockey camps.

    Fit: a gorgeous summer home bought and paid for by the time he’s 27. Fat: Flogging summer homes in Muskoka.

    Fit: the potential to play on a young emerging NHL team that will soon be a top-10 competitor for the mug, traveling and staying first class, adored by the fanbase of this city. Fat: riding the bus through Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico, unrecognized by all, regaling to the young guys about how he used to be in the show.

    If Peckham is actually out of shape, he’s an idiot,

  • “Wow Robin….that’s an eye opener…isn’t it a bit late to begin rounding into shape…I’d have thought Teddy would be bustin hump since season’s end to improve on last year’s poor performance…..at one million plus this is unacceptable…”

    Glass half-empty kind of guy?

    Theo didn’t just start working with Lacombe today. Even if that was the case, it’s July 16 not August 16.

  • Copperblueandwhite

    Wow Robin….that’s an eye opener…isn’t it a bit late to begin rounding into shape…I’d have thought Teddy would be bustin hump since season’s end to improve on last year’s poor performance…..at one million plus this is unacceptable…

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Other than the 230 lbs goal, Theo may benifit from adding one more goal to his list. Getting suspended a couple times during the coming season would help his cause. Inflict some pain and keep oncoming traffic honest on his side of the ice.

    You’ll notice when the Oilers play Dallas. The kids avoid Fistrics side like the plague. They know if they choose those rails to go down, there could be pain involved. Mark Fistric isn’t overly dangerous offensively or a threat on the powerplay but you do benifit from having an Hombre like him on your roster. Edmonton needs a guy like Fistric and Theo could just be the guy for the job.

    Stick to what you do best Theo, get back on that pain train.

  • Copperblueandwhite

    I still think he gets packaged up in a trade, easier to trade a guy on that cheap of a contract when he is a filler.

    Behind Justin Schultz* on the depth chart, not Jeff.

  • Funny. I saw a video last summer of Jones and Peckham playing golf and Theo look pretty much ripped. I wonder if the length of season combined with so many road trips really chipped away at his conditioning. I understand it’s not that hard to get fit over the summer (especially with the length of our off-season), but it’s WAY hard to maintain that level of elite fitness over the balance of the season.

  • The Soup Fascist

    I honestly hope he comes in shape. Being a kid and a little naiive about the necessity of conditioning in a first camp is one thing. Five or six camps of not getting it is another. I wonder how much of the issue (in the past at least) is immaturity? Hint two was some of the “Staubitz-like” penalties Theo has taken in the past. Some guys grow up – others don’t.

    Certainly there are players who can survive, a few years at least, without focusing on training i.e Drew Doughty and his 12.5 % body fat a couple of years ago. Difference is DD has more talent in his right pinky than Theo does in his whole chubby body and he could afford to be a bit of a slacker – although by all accounts #8 has focused a lot more on conditioning in the last year. Theo does NOT have that luxury.

    Like I said, I truly hope he gets it. We could really use a guy like Teddy Peckman. Theo Peckham, the 2011/2012 version at least – not so much.