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Impact
Impact!
NHL.com's Online Magazine
Nov/2002, Vol. 1, Issue 2
  • With teams from seas to shining sea, getting there is half the fun

  • Before air travel, NHL players took the train to the game

  • Wigge: Getting there is easier nowadays

  • A year later, Koivu still inspires

  • Blue Jackets' Klesla has star power

  • Euro path often leads back to NHL

  • Behind the scenes: Mike Emrick helps broadcasters hit the right notes

  • The Dropkick Murphys are rock's equivalent of Terry O'Reilly really!

  •  
    Mike Richter
    Quinn: I can remember 1994 when I was in Vancouver and we played the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals -- and they had not changed time zones since the first of the year while we were traveling 500-600 miles on short flights and 1,000-2,000 miles on longer ones.

    Wigge on travel
    Getting there is easier nowadays
    By Larry Wigge



    Today's players travel in the lap of luxury from city to city around the National Hockey League compared to how teams made the circuit in the 1980s ... and before.

    "Now they either have their own planes or they make almost all of the trips by charter," laughed Hockey Night in Canada TV analyst Harry Neale, who made his rounds as coach and general manager in Hartford, Detroit and Vancouver. "When I was in Vancouver in the late-1970s, there was no Calgary or Edmonton or Colorado for a relatively quick trip. Los Angeles was the team in closest proximity.

    "That meant for long homestands and even longer road trips. Once, I was so frustrated that I asked the pilot to try taking us out over the ocean because we couldn't win at home or on the road."

    "Western teams still have the worst of the travel," says Toronto Maple Leafs GM-coach Pat Quinn. "We can play for months without having to go out of the Eastern Time Zone. I can remember 1994 when I was in Vancouver and we played the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Finals -- and they had not changed time zones since the first of the year while we were traveling 500-600 miles on short flights and 1,000-2,000 miles on longer ones.

    "There was never any time for practice. That time was spent waiting in airports."

    Meanwhile, teams in the East were often back home in their beds after games and at practice the next day.

    "I think the biggest change came around 1981-82 for most teams. That's when I became general manager at Hartford and we chartered for about 60 percent of the games we played," recalls St. Louis Blues GM Larry Pleau. "Before then, a lot of teams either took connecting flights or went on the train. I know when I was with the Canadiens we always traveled by train to Toronto. I remember that well because I'm a little claustrophobic and I always had to keep the curtain open in my berth or else I felt the walls were closing in on me."

    That most of the teams were introduced to charter flights in the 1980s didn't mean all of the teams wanted to spend the money to travel that way. I remember Blues owner Harry Ornest (from 1983-86) complaining about his team being called "cheapskates" while the Boston Bruins, for one, traveled just as frugally as the Blues. "Harry O" claimed he was doing the NHL a favor since the League and Blues were being sued by interests in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, who wanted to buy the team from the Ralston Purina Company in 1983 but the deal was blocked and the NHL had to prove this team could make money in St. Louis.

    Doug MacLean
    Doug MacLean had a stressful season with the Blues in 1985-86, due to some unique travel arrangements.
    Columbus Blue Jackets GM Doug MacLean just smiled and shook his head when Ornest's name came up.

    "We have our own plane in Columbus," MacLean says. "We shared a plane with the Tigers in Detroit (when Doug was an assistant coach and assistant GM under Bryan Murray) and most of our flights were charter when I was in South Florida (when he was coach of the Panthers). But

    "When I was an assistant coach for the Blues (under Jacques Martin and Ornest in 1985-86), part of my job was to arrange the travel. There were no charters and no direct flights, only connecting routes. I'd have to get to the airport hours before our flight to make sure I had 20 tickets for the players in my hands, but my No. 1 priority was making sure I had an aisle seat for (GM) Ron Caron. No aisle seat and I was dead. As you can imagine, that was one of the longest seasons I've ever had."