John Czarnecki’s name may not be etched on the Stanley Cup, but his behind-the-scenes efforts played a major role in twice helping the Detroit Red Wings secure the National Hockey League’s treasured trophy.
A resident of Northville and co-owner (along with former Red Wings Head Coach Scotty Bowman and Red Wings legend Igor Larionov) of Troy-based The Training Room, Czarnecki’s therapeutic skills were instrumental in getting injured Red Wings players back on the ice as fast as possible during his tenure with the organization from 1998 to 2004.
Although the names of his current clientele may not be quite as recognizable as the athletes he worked on during his time with the Red Wings, the University of Michigan graduate’s passion for rehabbing injured bodies continues on a daily basis at The Training Room, whose spacious interior is stocked with several muscle-building machines.
A series of eye-popping vintage Red Wings-related images adorn the facility’s walls.
“What I liked best about my time with the Red Wings was working with an injured player during the day and watching him get back on the ice that night,” said Czarnecki. “I remember one instance working with Brent Gilchrist, helping him bounce back from an injury and seeing him excel hours later … that made it satisfying work.
“The most fun was just being around those guys in the locker room. It was like a big playground for adults.”
Taking flight with Wings
Czarnecki’s relationship with the Red Wings bonded in 1998 when his business was based at the Troy Sports Center, the facility where the Red Wings trained.
“I started doing all of their rehabilitation and did some summer conditioning for them,” he said. “When they had an injured player and the team went on the road, the player would stay back and work with me.”
Czarnecki was business partners with Red Wings athletic trainer John Wharton, who has since moved on to other ventures.
Czarnecki said he is ecstatic to be business partners with Bowman and Larionov.
“They’re both great to work with,” he said. “As long as our business continues its great reputation, they’re happy.”
Czarnecki said he still assists in the rehabilitation of retired Red Wings players, including Mickey Redmond and Joey Kocur.
They’ve seen it all
A native of Flint, Michigan, Czarnecki and The Training Room’s assistant physical therapist Doug Ross provide individualized therapy to people who have suffered a range of injuries.
“A trend that is growing is called pre-hab, where people come in before their surgeries to get stronger so that their post-surgery recovery goes smoother,” explained Ross.
In addition to rehabbing knees, shoulders and backs, the staff aid people who have suffered catastrophic injuries return to their former selves.
“We recently had two young men who suffered very serious injuries in snowmobile accidents,” he said. “After working with us, their recoveries are going very well. They’re young, which helps, because they have a lot of their lives to live and they want to be as close to 100% as possible, so they’re going to work hard.”
The Training Room offers a unique dynamic compared to most other physical therapy businesses, Czarnecki said.
“When someone visits us, they know I’m going to be working with them one-on-one during their session,” he said. “You won’t necessarily get the same physical therapist working with you at a lot of the other places.
“We could increase the number of clients we work with if we didn’t emphasize the one-on-one sessions, but we prefer — and I think our clients appreciate — the way we do it.”
Innovation is a way of life at The Training Room. The staff included laser therapy a few years ago and Czarnecki said he takes photos and videos of new patients.
“Rehabilitation can be grueling at times, obviously, with a lot of ups and downs,” he said. “When a client is getting a little down about their recovery, I’ll show the the photos and/or video of when they first started and show them how far they’ve come. It’s an effective way of showing them how much progress they’ve made.”
The father of two sons and two daughters, Czarnecki is a difference-maker in the community. Inspired by his son Dominic’s autism diagnosis, he helped found The Ted Lindsay Foundation, which has raised over $7 million since 2020 to support autism research and educational programs.
Czarnecki is also on the board of directors of the Northville-based Living & Learning Enrichment Center, which provides social and emotional support for people living with developmental disabilities.