WESTERN SPRINGS — Paul Goodman has been living his dream for the past five years, ever since being named strength and conditioning coach for the Chicago Blackhawks. The 38-year-old Western Springs resident shared some of his excitement July 23 when he brought the Stanley Cup to McClure Junior High so that people from the community could have their picture taken with the historical trophy.
Q. How did you end up working for the Blackhawks?
A. I heard a position had opened up, and I wanted to be in the NHL, the highest level of hockey. I was always interested in training and was a gym rat. I went to the University of Wisconsin and worked as an undergrad and while in grad school with the football program. I then got a chance to work with the hockey team and took over as the head hockey strength and conditioning coach. I worked for six years as the head strength and conditioning coach at the University of Vermont and was there when I heard about the Blackhawks job. I was fortunate enough to get an interview and got a call when I returned to Vermont that I had gotten the job.
Q. Competition for jobs in the NHL must be fierce. How did you end up getting an interview, and why do you think you were chosen for the job?
A. It’s about the connections you have with management. I made a connection with (former Blackhawks’ general manager) Dale Tallon, which was a big key to getting me in the door in the first place. I feel that I made some good connections with a lot of the people in this organization. It’s really a great team to work with.
Q. The Blackhawks went from 1961 to 2010 without winning the Stanley Cup. Now, the team has won two championships in four years. How does it feel to be a part of that?
A. It’s just unbelievable. I got a sense the first year we were very close, which makes for excitement and nervousness. I think you dream of winning championships at all levels of any sport. If I do something to help one player on one shift, I feel good about that.
Q. What’s your relationship like with the Blackhawks players?
A. It’s outstanding. This is a very humble group that works very hard, and they’re just good people. The level of consistency is very important. They know they’ll always be greeted with respect. Some things are pretty common in workouts for players, and there’s a lot of personal attention to each player, too. There’s also definitely an educational piece to it. I want them to learn about training, nutrition and other things that will help them be at their best.
Q. Do you work with the players during the offseason as well as during the season?
A. The offseason is when the progress is made. Guys who are around come in to work out, and we also have a website, strictly for the Blackhawks, so that I can write training programs for them if they aren’t around here during the summer. Patrick Kane, for example, is in Buffalo over the summer, but he uses the website for his training program.
Q. What are your top priorities as the team’s strength and conditioning coach?
A. Obviously, we want all the players to be able to perform as best as possible, and they put a lot of hard work into training so that can happen. Injury prevention is a big part of it, too. Injuries are going to happen, but you want to do everything possible to reduce the risk.
Q. How did you end up living in Western Springs?
A. We’ve been in Western Springs for two years. We were looking at school districts and found a great one here, and we just love the surroundings. I really just love Western Springs. It has a real community feel to it. When I drive home, I really feel like I’m going home.