When Kevin Collins joined the Buffalo Sabres’ organization five years ago as a conditioning coach, he had no idea he also would become a computer geek.

Collins spends most of his time monitoring the diet and exercise regimen of the Portland Pirates. But on game days he’s focused on his laptop computer, keeping track of what the players are doing on the ice.

Every time the Pirates play, Collins breaks down the video feed of the game for coaches and players to review.

“I’m not really a techie at all,” said Collins, who joined the Sabres as an assistant fitness coach following his graduation from SUNY-Brockport in 2005 with a degree in exercise physiology. “I was right out of college when I started out with Buffalo, and they asked me if I was willing to do the video, too.”

It’s an unusual fit.

“Most teams do have video coaches now,” said Collins, who turns 28 on Sunday. “I’ve run across them, and there are a few strength coaches (in the AHL), but no one does (these) dual roles.”

During games at the Cumberland County Civic Center, Collins sits in the control booth high above the ice on the Spring Street side of the arena, opposite the team benches.

While watching the video of the game stream on his computer, Collins stores nearly every play in various files.

“For faceoffs, for example, I push a button when it happens,” he said. “I also push a button where it is — defensive zone, neutral zone or offensive zone. I push another button on whether it’s a win or a loss, and I push (a button) for the player, whether he won or lost it.”

During intermissions, Collins heads to the locker room to share the information.

“We’re getting real-time feedback to see what adjustments we need to make,” Portland Coach Kevin Dineen said. “It’s great information for us to have.”

Dineen said he sometimes uses the video to make changes in the Pirates’ approach.

“If we’re having an issue in our neutral zone, I can come in between periods and hit the button (on the computer), and it automatically pops up (showing) instances we were on defense in the neutral zone,” he said. “It’s one thing to see it live, but it’s another to instantly see replays of it.”

The computer software also enables Collins to break down the game for individuals. He can provide each player with a highlight film, or in some cases a lowlight film, of each game.

“The job he does in the booth is really impressive,” Dineen said. “Not only as coaches are we getting strategic feedback, but the players have a database each one of them can review at the end of the game.”

The video work is a sideline to Collins’ primary job, which is to help get the players in peak condition.

“I feel his real passion is in the strength and conditioning area,” Dineen said. “He’s got a lot of trust and the faith of the players. He’s aware of their individual strengths and areas where they need improvement.”

The players are well aware of Collins’ role.

“If you’re carrying too much weight, you’re going to be on the bike doing extra work, and (Collins) does a great job of monitoring that,” said Portland forward Derek Whitmore.

“We have to make sure we eat right, we’re hydrating and getting our workouts in, and (Collins) does a great job of making us do that. He’s a big part of the team.”

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com