Blair Season

Know Your Bobcat – Seth Blair

Throughout the months of August and September, BismarckBobcats.com will be taking a one-by-one look at the players on the Bobcats’ Training Camp Roster. Today’s installment features former Century High standout Seth Blair.

Name: Seth Blair

Position: Forward

Hometown: Bismarck, ND

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 197 lbs.

2012-13 Team: Bismarck Bobcats

2012-13 Stats: 10 GP, 2 G, 7 A, 9 PTS, +4, 26 PIM, 2 PPG

Favorite Movie: August Rush

Favorite Athlete: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos

Highlight of 2012-13: “I’d never been to the playoffs before last year, so being able to not only make it there but to win the Central Division, nothing could match up to that. It was so loud and crazy inside the VFW at that moment.”

Fourth Time’s a Charm

Not unlike his former Century High teammate, Dan Kovar, Bismarck Bobcats forward Seth Blair is entering his fourth season in the North American Hockey League.

Unlike Kovar, however, Blair took a bit of a scenic route in getting to the Bobcats: starting his junior career with the Corpus Christi IceRays in 2010-11, splitting 2011-12 between the IceRays and Minot Minotauros and finally starting 2012-13 with the Minotauros before joining the Bobcats at that season’s roster deadline.

Now, entering his final year of eligibility, Blair feels like he’s found the right spot.

“This summer has been my best off-season, by far,” explained Blair, who averaged nearly a point per game in February and March with the Cats. “You go into every offseason with the same mentality: get better; knowing that I’m coming back to a good situation in my hometown gives me that little extra push.”

The stability of his situation has been a big motivator for Blair, but it’s hardly been his only driving force since the 2012-13 campaign came to a close.

“I never had a chance to be in the playoffs my first two years, much less be on a team that’s contending for a national championship,” offered Blair, whose first two teams finished one spot out of the postseason, “so now it’s all I think about. It’s what I see every day I step into that gym and start working.”

When it comes to moving into that leadership role that a long-time veteran is expected to assume, having the benefit of seeing the NAHL from multiple perspectives over three seasons is an obvious benefit for Blair.

“Coming into the league with the IceRays, I would play maybe every other game, which was frustrating,” admitted Blair, who skated in just 20 contests in his rookie campaign in south Texas. “Now I get to step into a role where I can lift the guys struggling with that position up, I can show them how to work through that, you know, tell them everything is going to work out.”

To Drop or Not to Drop

Over the course of his time in Corpus Christi and Minot, Seth Blair became known for dropping the mitts: racking up 10 fights in 73 games over two-plus seasons while accounting for 30 points in that same time span.

That notoriety—and fight total—were not necessarily by choice for the 6’3” forward.

“Obviously in high school and even in AAA, I wasn’t ever really into fighting,” recalled Blair, who only had 40 PIM in 20 games during his AAA season in Omaha, Neb. “But when I got into juniors the coaches noticed that I had the size and the edge to drop the gloves, and that became the role that I would end up filling on those teams because that’s what the coaches wanted me to do.”

Between Corpus Christi and Minot, Blair piled up 138 PIM.

Bobcats head coach and general manager Layne Sedevie, however, had never viewed Blair as that type of player.

“I watched Seth play for Century and followed him in Omaha, and he was always a big guy with a lot of skill and finishing ability,” explained Sedevie. “So when he became more of a fighter I was a bit surprised and I also thought it was kind of a waste of a player who could do so much more.”

Luck would turn around for Blair, who had asked for his release from the Minotauros weeks earlier, at the 2013 roster deadline when he got a call from Sedevie.

The Bobcats bench boss had a track record for turning enforcers into producers, starting with heavyweight Rodney LaLonde, who went from fighting nine times with the Texas Tornado early in 2010-11 to scoring the Central Division Finals-winning goal for the Bobcats.

“When I got that call, Coach told me he wanted me to come and be a hockey player. To put up points and contribute; not to fight,” recounted Blair. “It’s exactly the chance I’d been hoping for. It might’ve been the happiest day of my life.”

Blair repaid Sedevie’s confidence in his abilities by following up the aforementioned nine points in 10 regular season games with six goals and four assists in seven Central Division playoff contests.

He even took his joy for giving up pugilism to social media, changing his twitter handle to “@gluedONmitts2” after joining the Cats’ roster officially.

Ship Shape

One major cornerstone of the Bobcats’ long-term plan for success involves intense off-ice conditioning with director of fitness Mike Salwei at Healthways, including offseason workouts and the Cats’ famous “Hell Week” portion of training camp.

Blair has embraced the rigorous training system throughout the offseason.

“I’ve been in the gym all summer, with that thought of getting better in my head every day,” stated Blair. “One thing I hear from coaches and scouts is that I need to work on my speed, so I worked on my foot speed and made myself lighter by losing 18 pounds since the Robertson Cup.”

His offseason commitment hasn’t eluded the attention of the Bobcat staff, who knew that Salwei’s program would be a major benefit to the fourth-year veteran.

“Seth showed us in his short time on our team last season that he’s got the tools to be a big time player, and even he will tell you that he wasn’t in anywhere near his best shape at that time,” noted Sedevie. “But we knew right away when we signed him that once he got into our conditioning program that the sky would be the limit for him.”

An underrated motivator for Blair’s successful offseason, though, is being able to push and be pushed by his own teammates in the gym.

“When I was training for [the 2012-13] season, I worked out at Healthways, too, but I don’t think I got the same out of it at all,” detailed Blair. “But working out with Kovar, [Aaron] Nelson, Tommy Malkmus and Tony German has been huge—for all of us, I think—because we’re in there working toward the same goal together: winning the Robertson Cup.”

Stay tuned to BismarckBobcats.com over the next month-plus as we take you in-depth with every player on the Training Camp Roster in preparation for the 2013-14 season. This week, we will also feature Filip Starzynski, Ryan Callahan and Stanislav Dzakhov.