Johan Hedberg Turning to Hypnotism to Raise His Game
Pittsburgh - Still smarting from a late-season collapse, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Johan Hedberg has turned to a hypnotist to improve the mental part of his game.
Hedberg, 29, has had two sessions with a sports psychologist in his native Sweden in the past month, and will have one more on Thursday before leaving Sunday for Pittsburgh, where training camp begins Sept. 12. Each two-hour session include 30 minutes of hypnosis.
"I think back on last year and I feel shame. I feel sick," said Hedberg, whose 25-34-7 record set a single-season franchise record for losses. "I didn't just want to work out my body to get rid of it. I wanted to work out my head, as well."
Hedberg's record was 5-15-3 from February on, a major reason the team finished a 28-41-8-5 season by going winless (0-8-1-1) in their final 10 games.
But Hedberg wasn't just sick over losing - he was losing his composure, breaking his sticks over the net. He's hoping the hypnosis will help him regain control of his temper as well as his game.
"I think this is going to help me. I'm learning to be more patient, how to handle everything better," Hedberg said. "You have to have control of your emotions in my position."
Hedberg said he's also focusing on game situations, like breakaways and tough shots, and visualizing how he'll handle them.
He hopes the hypnosis and two on-ice sessions each day - including one in which he simply faces a puck shooting machine - will combine to pay dividends.
"My big concentration has been with the machine and closing up holes, making my style more compact," Hedberg said.
"There is no worse goal you can imagine than one that goes under your arm or between your legs. If you have the angle on a shot, you should stop it every time."
Hedberg said he can't wait for training camp to start, to test his new mind-and-body regimen - and to erase the ugliest memories of last season, the first time in 12 seasons the Penguins missed the playoffs.
"We didn't win any of our last 10 games and it's not easy to forget about that. It was ugly and disgraceful. That was the worst month I've ever had in my hockey career." Hedberg said. "I'm very anxious to get there and get started."