When it comes to the team's physical well-being, the Utica Comets have that covered.
Prepared to address virtually any potential injury, the players have an army of health care professionals at their ready – primary care, orthopedic, dental and chiropractic.
Dr. Russell Williams DC is amongst the sports medicine team administering their skills to help keep players in the line-up.
Q: What brought you to being involved in treating the Comets?
A: I have prior experience in treating pro athletes. I (along with Dr. Thomas LaFountain) work with the PGA Tour and travel a bit during their season. The guys (Comets players) like what I'm doing. This is my third season working with the team, as there was no DC on staff for the first season.
Q: When do you treat players?
A: I'm a season ticket holder, but on game day, all the team docs are working. We are always watching the guys. If a player is dinged up in-between periods, it's not uncommon that I would work on him.
Q: Is there a regular schedule to when you treat the team?
A: On Tuesdays I come down to The AUD for a couple hours after practice. Usually, I could see 10-15 guys with some cases acute and some more chronic.
Q: When you're watching a Comets game how do you separate from being a fan to being a healthcare practitioner?
A: My wife and kids are usually with me at the games, so that helps. In-between periods, the medical team will go downstairs and address any issues. We all sit in the same area. When we see a violent hit in a corner, they always seem to happen there, I know that I may be treating them.
Q: Your thoughts on treating hockey players, as opposed to golfers?
A: I've learned more in the past three-and-a-half years (about hockey), than the previous 35. Hockey, by and large is a traumatic sport. The players are banged around repetitively, unlike golf. Hockey players have more nicks and dings, more occurrences, than I see on the Tour.
Q: How do you know what players need your service?
A: There's a white board in the trainer's room. When the guys arrive for practice (at The AUD), they go in and sign up. 90% of the Comets treatments are done there in the training room. If any of the guys’ injuries would require seeing me more than once a week, they would come to my office. That typically happens for one or two guys per season.
Q: After treating a player, how soon could they expect relief?
A: Results are ideally immediate. The quicker you get after an injury, the quicker the results.
Q: How busy are you at a Comets' home game?
A: Some very, some not at all. Really depends on the night.
Q: Where does the information on the player you treat go?
A: I field it through Toby (Comets' Athletic Trainer Toby Blosser). It then filters up to Vancouver through him.
Q: What type of compliments do you receive from the players?
A: Everybody is always appreciative. I want to keep them going. They (Comets) are happy with the work I do.
Q: Who else do you work with on the Comets' staff?
A: Toby and Ken Hetzel (Strength and Conditioning Coach). We would go over various exercises, if a guy is injured. We’ll run it by Ken; what muscle groups focus on or to stay away from while a player is rehabbing.