Working with the school’s strength-and-conditioning coach Tom Inkrott at his side, Hastings put them through a grueling challenge. He instructed the players to run eight 400-meter dashes, each under 70 seconds with 2 minutes of rest between sprints. No one was able to complete the challenge, Hayes said.
“I thought to myself, ‘Wow, this is going to be different than years past. This is going to be tough.’” Hayes said.
“Tough,” “intense,” “energetic,” “disciplined.” They’re all words MSU’s players use to describe their coach. But keep listening, and you’ll hear “detailed,” “clear,” “wisdom,” “respect,” as well.
“He’s just full of wisdom,” said Elbrecht, who played junior hockey for Hastings with the Omaha Lancers in 2007-08. “Every day he gives us a talk before practice, and you feel like you’re going to out and play for the Stanley Cup.”
From the moment he arrived in Mankato, Hastings has stuck with the theme of “family” and getting the team to go through the year — the preseason, the season itself and, they all hoped, the postseason — together as a unit.
Hayes and Elbrecht, the team’s co-captains, led the way. Rarely an interview goes by in which they don’t mention their Mavericks family.
“This is a we thing, not a me thing,” Hastings said. “We ask everybody to buy into that. … Look, everyday with your family is not a picnic, right? There are peaks and valleys. The peaks are enjoyable, and the valleys make you stronger, not weaker.”
Those words — many mantras and mottos — roll off Hastings’ tongue on a regular basis and have kept the players listening and learning.
Asked to come up with some Hastings-isms, players agreed there were too many to remember the best.
“Get your bump,” McInnis said, referring to checking an opponent when he gets rid of the puck. “When we’re not playing well, we’re not bumping anybody.