In the playoffs last season, Justin Abdelkader showed that he can be an agitator. He also showed that his fighting could use some work, though. Against Phoenix in game six of that series, for example, Abdelkader ran over a Coyotes player but then didn't do much when he got into a fight with Derek Morris right after. Something similar happened against San Jose in game four. Abdelkader went at it with Scott Nichol, and although he didn't lose the fight by any means, he whiffed on a couple of big punches.â†µ
Since Abdelkader is expected to spend the entire 2010-11 season with the Red Wings, he understands the need to improve his fighting. After all, the Red Wings don't have an enforcer currently on the team, so chances are Abby will be getting in fights more often than one might expect. As a result, he is spending this summer working on his fighting abilities by training with boxing "guru" Bob Every.â†µ
"When I first saw him, not being a boxer, there was an incredible amount of stiffness in his approach," Every said. "But he's a fast learner and dedicated and he's ahead of the curve. He's a tough kid, very serious."â†µ
Every and Abdelkader studied video of some of his fights and saw he was too aggressive and opening up while looking for the knockout punch. He also didn't have proper positioning and balance.
"Obviously, boxing is different than fighting on skates, where rarely do fights go past 30 to 45 seconds," Every said. "We're trying to give him a better sense of balance and leverage when he's throwing punches. We're trying to incorporate punching techniques, the speed and explosiveness that goes into boxing. We're teaching him to punch at angles."
In addition to training with Every twice a week in Lansing, Abdelkader is also taking a couple classes at Michigan State. Once he completes them in August, he will be only nine credits away from getting his degree, meaning Abdelkader will probably be able to complete it next summer.