No device predicts injuries or spits out a solution to heal Kris Letang’s herniated disc or Evgeni Malkin’s wonky shoulder. But myriad wearable tools collect data on heart rates, sleeping patterns and other biological processes. That information funnels into a software system known as CoachMePlus, which helps the Penguins dig deeper than ever to decipher how many of their players, whether fresh off of an injury or yet to miss a game, are ready to perform to their fullest potential.
“As long as the athletes believe (the tracking) is beneficial and there’s a trust relationship between the coaches and the athletes, then (players) will buy in,” said CoachMePlus president and co-founder Kevin Dawidowicz, who counts 11 NHL teams among his company’s clients. “The Penguins are actually a very successful organization at doing this. … They’re one of the more advanced teams.”
Dawidowicz is not at liberty to share the specifics of the Penguins’ biometric monitoring program. Neither is the Penguins’ Director of Sport Science and Performance, Andy O’Brien, whom team officials declined to make available. When asked about the monitoring program’s role in the team’s decision-making, coach Mike Sullivan claimed borderline ignorance.
“I don’t even know what biometric data is,” Sullivan said. “We talk with our strength and conditioning guys on a daily basis. We have objectives that we try to meet based on workloads and rest and recovery.”
But players acknowledge the tracking goes beyond heart rate measurements, and most welcome that thoroughness.
“They’re very open about it if you want to know,” winger Bryan Rust said. “They’ll have a big long conversation about how things work and what their thought process is. … Usually I’m fairly curious. When they’re trying to experiment with things, I’m trying to get in there and be one of those guys.”