The Stanley Cup is coming. So are the bike tests. Both have been known to make players feel faint, but for completely different reasons.
The NHL Centennial Fan Arena will make its two-day stop in Buffalo on Friday and Saturday. The league is celebrating its 100th year with a free interactive experience that honors players, teams and moments from the last century. The highlight will be an appearance by the Cup.
While that party takes place outside KeyBank Center, the NHL Scouting Combine transitions from interviews to action. The fitness testing in HarborCenter will kick off Friday with the VO2 Max test, one of two grueling bike challenges the prospects will face. The second, the Wingate Cycle Ergometer Test, will close the combine Saturday.
More than 100 of the top draft-eligible prospects have spent the week in Buffalo talking with team executives. The five players at the head of the class will visit with fans at the centennial celebration.
Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier, Casey Mittelstadt, Gabriel Vilardi and Michael Rasmussen will sign autographs and take part in a question-and-answer session at 3 p.m. Friday in Alumni Plaza. With the combine closed to the public, it’s the only access to the players who will be drafted June 23-24 in Chicago.
Announced last month, the centennial celebration will include:
*A 53-foot museum truck featuring interactive displays, videos and historical memorabilia that will showcase the history of the Sabres.
*A second 53-foot video truck featuring team highlights and a stage for special appearances.
*A virtual reality mini Zamboni that allows fans to compete in a race to resurface the ice.
*A street hockey rink.
*A special net to donate gently used hockey equipment, which will be upcycled back into the community.
The Centennial Fan Arena will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The Cup will be on display from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
NHL scouts and executives will spend Saturday in HarborCenter analyzing the prospects’ fitness. The nearly 11-hour day will feature eight tests ranging from pull ups to wingspan measurements to the Wingate.
The Wingate features prospects pedaling at maximum capacity for 30-second intervals. Friday’s VO2 Max tests the players’ endurance as they bike with an oxygen mask. Teams add the data to on-ice performance and the interviews in hopes of finding players who can bring them the Cup.
The fans just need to wait in line for it outside the Sabres' arena.