Wednesday was, for the most part, a complete day off for the Colorado Avalanche. Having played Saturday, travelled Sunday and competed Monday and Tuesday, a little rest and relaxation for the squad was on the agenda in New York City.
The team arrived at its Manhattan hotel late but not too late after the 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils and was gifted the chance to spend the following day out and about. Some players went shopping in the multitude of high end stores littering the endless streets while others went exploring to Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Central Park and beyond. A group even journeyed all the way down to One World Trade Center and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum near the tip of the island.
Team members John Mitchell, Cody McLeod , Nate Guenin, Erik Johnson , Gabriel Landeskog , Brandon Gormley and Tyson Barrie , head athletic trainer Matt Sokolowski, assistant athletic trainer/physical therapist Scott Woodward, strength and conditioning coach Casey Bond and assistant equipment manager Brad Lewkow visited the Freedom Tower and the One World Observatory, operated by Legends.
The pack got a full tour while there, ascending to the 102nd level of the new building to take in a foggy view of The Big Apple. The trip to the top featured a video ride depicting the history of the area as everyone rode upward. The scene started with an undeveloped New York and then spanned the years through small settlements, the city grid and the original Twin Towers until it reached today. All of this took place over the course of 47 seconds-the time it took to arrive at the One World Observatory.
An experience known for the scenery, drab and rainy weather hampered the splendidness of the scene, though it was an adventure for those involved nonetheless.
"We went up in One World Observatory, and the visibility was really poor. We couldn't actually see anything. We were stuck in the clouds. We got good cloud views, kind of like we were in a plane, but it was cool," Johnson said of the experience. "They did a really good job. Obviously, it took a lot of time and effort. I think they said it took eight years to build.
"The coolest part, since we couldn't see out from the top, was probably the elevator ride. I think it took 47 seconds to get from floor one to 102. I guess it used to take 42 seconds to get to the top but people were getting sick, so they had to slow it down to 47. Apparently that's made a difference. It was good to go see, for sure."
After taking the same elevator down-this time the video was an out-of-building look at the new World Trade Center and the surrounding area-the group took in the infinity pools out front, a living and lasting catalogue of those who perished as the events unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001.
See the photo gallery of their visit here.
One player who spent at least a portion of the day working was red-hot forward Matt Duchene . Fresh off being named the NHL third star of the month for his play in November, Duchene was invited down to the National Hockey League offices to meet commissioner Gary Bettman, spend some time on NHL social and to do a quick interview with Tony Luftman on NHL Network.
The 24-year-old was featured on the league's Snapchat account and then conducted a live-video Q&A session via Periscope, taking fan inquiries and comments and responding to them. He also provided a list of his favorite country songs to be used in a Spotify playlist.
After that, Duchene was whisked down to the NHL Powered by Reebok Store on the corner. Once there, Luftman conducted a quick interview with the Halliburton, Ontario, native from the former NHL Live Studio perched above the retail outlet. Duchene was asked about the team, his hot stretch, the trip to New York and New Jersey and even his custom-made purple blazer and dazzling, paisley pocket square.
With the sun setting, foot traffic really picked up near Rockefeller Center as the city's annual Christmas tree lighting was scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. Musicians, celebrities, television and news crews and thousands upon thousands of people descended upon the area to watch the embodiment of the holiday come to life. The extravaganza also featured an outdoor light show set to popular holiday tunes on display on the side of Saks Fifth Avenue.
Avalanche players, coaches and staff went their own way for dinner, seeking out the best cuisine in the city and using up the last vestiges of free time before it was back to the grind again on Thursday.