Travis Sanheim doesn't mind some manual labor.
The Flyers' defenseman grew up working on his family farm and still enjoys chipping in whenever he's back home in the Elkhorn, Manitoba area.
When the 2019-20 NHL season was abruptly halted and lengthily on hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, Sanheim put his handiness to good use by creating a gym at his place in Brandon, Manitoba.
The gym was then put to good use in this unusual and restricted offseason. Sanheim, who is back in the Philadelphia area preparing for the Flyers' Jan. 3 start to training camp, was able to stay active at home considering the circumstances.
"I took some time off after the playoffs," Sanheim said Tuesday in a video interview. "It was a long season with having the break, then trying to train and work hard to get back into shape for camp, and with the playoffs and a little bit of a run there, the body was definitely beaten up a bit. Took some time off, but after that, I got right into it. The first go-around in March when our season went on pause, I ended up building a gym at my house. Probably the best thing I could have done, was able to work out every day."
The 24-year-old Sanheim is coming off a second straight season of growth after winning the 2018-19 Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy as the club's most improved player. During 2019-20, the 2014 first-round pick led Flyers blueliners in goals (eight) and points (21) at even strength. He had 25 points overall (eight goals, 17 assists) and continued to put more on his plate as he set career highs in minutes per game (20:09) and shorthanded minutes per game (1:48).
When Sanheim wasn't in his home gym this offseason, he got in work alongside Islanders defenseman and Brandon Wheat Kings product Ryan Pulock, who helped end the Flyers' season during the second round of the playoffs.
"For on-ice, it was hard at times because Manitoba went through phases of shutdown and code red, so I did as best I could," Sanheim said. "Me and him kind of worked with each other with a skills coach to better our game. Just little things that D-men have to work on, whether it’s little breakouts, puck plays, wheeling with the puck, seeing the ice and making the right decisions. I feel like I got better over the course of the break and looking forward to the upcoming season."
Sanheim also saw plenty of Flyers teammate Nolan Patrick. The 2017 second overall pick is a Winnipeg, Manitoba native and played his junior hockey for the Wheat Kings. Training in Brandon this offseason with a group led by former Flyer Ryan White, the 22-year-old Patrick is aiming to return to the lineup after missing 2019-20 because of a migraine disorder.
"I’ve been in touch with Patty a lot," Sanheim said. "He lives a couple houses down from where I live, so I saw him a lot, working together and skating together. He’s been awesome, his skill set is next level. We knew that from when the day he got drafted. It’s awesome seeing him back out there skating and looking forward to playing with him again."
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