When the Blue Jackets had a day off in lovely Banff, Alberta, on March 5, the team was able to go on an adventure the likes of which most players had never undertaken before.
Team members went on a dog-sledding excursion through the Alberta wilderness, riding for more than an hour through pristine snowfalls and gorgeous valleys, through untouched forests and along crystal-clear streams.
Oh, and of course, spending time with some pretty cool sled dogs as well, all in the name of an unforgettable experience and some team bonding heading into a crucial point of the season.
Video: Blue Jackets go dogsledding in Banff National Park.
"It was awesome," defenseman Zach Werenski said. "I've never done anything like that before. The guys, we were all talking about it -- during the season, you don't really get a winter vacation. I haven't really had a winter vacation in I can't tell you how long. Some guys I think went to Vail this year (on winter break), but usually I'm going somewhere warm on winter break.
"But it was a lot of fun to be out in the snow and see the mountains. What an awesome town that is. It was a lot of fun for us."
After the game with Calgary on the recent Western Canada trip, the team bused to Banff for the day-off getaway. Located in Banff National Park with a population of just below 9,000, Banff is a resort town nestled in the Canadian Rockies about 80 miles west of Calgary. Mountain peaks like Mt. Rundle and Mt. Cascade can be seen in all directions, and a cozy downtown features shops and restaurants for visitors to enjoy.
But the wilderness is the true star of the show. The rocky peaks, snow-capped in winter, are backdrops for just about every photo, and stately conifers give the feel of a true mountain exterior. The dog-sledding adventure, located just out of town, was a chance to see the Canadian wilderness in its most untouched form.
For players on the team, it was a chance to step away that won't soon be forgotten.
"Road trips are tough," Scott Harrington said. "It's tough being away from home and your family and stuff like that, but it's a good opportunity sometimes to get away for a couple of days. We forgot about hockey for a second and did some cool stuff as a team. We spent the entire day together, hours and hours -- it might have been the most time we spent together during the entire season.
"We had a blast. Getting out into the forest and doing the trains with the dogs was great, so I think it was a good reset for us."