Hockey has a sleep balance problem, and it’s one without an easy fix.
When I worked with the Toronto Marlies, the team travelled on two busses, one for just the players and one for the staff. This arrangement was created specifically so every player could have two seats they could more comfortably lay down on during the return from a road trip, in the hopes of fostering better post-game sleep. (With just one team bus rookies often have to double up, which makes for tough sleeping conditions.)
In 2016-17, the players were given a book (really a glorified pamphlet) they were assigned to read called “Sleep To Win”, which was at the core of how Rich Rotenberg believed teams should operate to give themselves a chance to reach their collective ceiling. Rich was with the Marlies at the time, but is now with the Leafs as “Director, High Performance,” and nothing has changed about his belief in the importance of a good REM cycle. He was behind subtle changes that the Marlies made those years in terms of pushing back morning meetings and skates (and cancelling others altogether), and in getting the team to stay where they played on the road, rather than trying to get to the next city that same night.
But not every player was keen on the task of reading the material, which was ironic because it was aimed at helping them perform better as players. Rich knew he could only lead the young guys to water, and he could only hope it would lead them to want to drink it.
Last weekend, Robin Lehner made headlines with a string of tweets that touched on a whole host of topics, namely alleging that NHL teams were handing out prescription meds a la carte to players who didn’t have proper prescriptions, specifically naming Ambien.