ANY fears Nottingham Panthers' supporters had over the fitness of new signing Jonathan Weaver have been firmly dispelled.
When his controversial signing came at the same time as the axing of popular captain Danny Meyers, there were some adverse comments that the 35-year-old Weaver's best days were behind him.
The Great Britain defenceman also had a knee operation two years ago which prompted talk that he was using Panthers as a "retirement home" after ending his successful five-season stay with Coventry Blaze.
But coach Mark Coles, who has been working with Panthers' British-based players since the beginning of June at his Newark-based M10 Fitness gym says Weaver – and his knee – are in "fantastic shape".
Panthers' consultant strength coach Coles said: "I have been very impressed with Weavs' level of commitment.
"In fact I can't stress enough the commitment of all the Panthers players. Some of them have to travel a long way to get here – four times a week.
"There will not be many people, if any, training as hard as these guys have been doing.
"We've really put them through it and there have been no problems with Weavs' so-called dodgy knee. He's been lifting 125kilos and all of them are 25 per cent stronger than when we started."
Those accompanying Weaver have included Great Britain players David Clarke, Matthew Myers, Steve Lee, Rob Lachowicz, Marc Levers and Josh Ward.
"Normally players are expected to keep themselves fit through the summer months ahead of when they turn up for pre-season training," said Coles.
"So I think it's the first year Panthers have supported the players in an off-season program.
"It has been properly structured and tapered to the start of the season.
"But they are doing a lot more than what was expected of them and are way ahead in terms of improvement.
"It's all been about nutrition, training, rest and recovery to become stronger, faster and fitter.
Hockey players are hardly known for looking after themselves during the close season but I think these guys will surprise quite a few people.
"For someone new to a team and anxious to make an impression, Jonathan Weaver is certainly ticking all the boxes.
"And if his great attitude is anything to go by, I believe the supporters will soon realise we have an asset on our hands."
Article taken from This is Nottingham online.