At age 33, Brent Seabrook trying to adapt game while staying true to himself

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At 33 years of age, Brent Seabrook knows he isn't getting any younger. Quite frankly, nobody is. Except for the NHL.

Recognizing this, he had one goal — no pun intended — in mind this offseason.

"As I get older, it's tougher to play [against] all these young water bugs," Seabrook said in April. "My main focus this summer is trying to get in the best shape I can."

He did just that. Seabrook noticeably looks more fit as the Blackhawks reported to training camp this weekend, but there was an injury scare that delayed his start.

Three weeks ago he felt something bothering him in his abdomen and had no choice but to get it checked out.

"To be honest, when doc gave me the news I freaked out," Seabrook said. "I put a lot of effort into this summer and trying to get my body where it needs to be to have a good season and have a good camp. I think that's where it's going to start for us here this season, is right now during camp and I was pretty disappointed that I wasn't able to partake in the first day and first couple days to be on the ice, but it was nice to be out there today that's for sure."

Fortunately for he and the Blackhawks, it only sidelined him for two days of on-ice drills, which is the most important part of developing team chemistry going into a season everybody in the organization is motivated to begin after seeing how last year unfolded.

While he wasn't able to participate in the dreaded fitness testing with his teammates on Thursday, you don't have to look at the test results to know Seabrook is in the best shape of his life.

"He had a good summer," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought he did a real good job of training and pushing to the next level. I think when you're looking at his fitness level ... we know that he's way better than he's ever been and that commitment, it shows that he's doing everything he can to enhance his game and enhance our team game, so that's going to make him quicker out there."

In any profession, evolving with the times is essential to staying relevant. Seabrook understands the league is as young and quick as it's ever been, which is why he spent so much time focusing on that this summer.

But he also has to stay true to himself and what has made him Brent Seabrook.

"I'm me and that's not going to change," he said. "The abilities I have, I can work on making them quicker, faster, better, things like that, but what you see is what you get. I don't think you can really change with the times other than trying to get better. You're always learning out there, learning how different tendencies are, watching players around the league, skating in the summer and trying different things, that's kind of it.

"But the main focus for me this summer was my quickness. Single leg strength, getting that good push, being able to focus on having that quick jump and being able to close gaps quickly. Obviously, the stuff I've done over the years, trying to have a good stick, be physical, that can work in my advantage as well ... I'm me, but you try to get better in certain areas and try to adapt for sure."

Seabrook isn't going to outrace Connor McDavid or Mathew Barzal to a puck; not many people can. Speed is different than quickness.

If his quickness and strong first step can help put himself in a good position on the ice to cut off angles, that's where you will see the results.

"They're fast, they're quick," Seabrook said. "It's as much positioning and knowing where to be on the ice for myself as much as it is to be as fast and as quick as them. I don't think I'm going to catch them as I'm getting older, but I can put myself in good positions and good situations where I'm not getting beat and having to turn around and chase them and having a good gap, really focusing on my quickness and my conditioning this summer and just trying to be the best Brent Seabrook I can be."

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