New York, NY - “The road” is such a simple phrase - a definite article, followed by such a frequently used noun.
But “the road” in the NHL - and for the Bruins - is much more than a highway or even Broadway. It’s a manufactured time away from the confines of home. Sometimes time on the road is short (like today and tomorrow’s quick go-round) and sometimes it can be lengthy (like the B’s road trip in mid-late February).
“The road” can often bring a squad closer together, and lead to defining moments late in the season (like when the B’s swept their six-game road swing in late February of 2011 en route to the Cup).
No matter the time spent away, the B’s always cherish the “team bonding” time - especially with the close-knit group that they’ve established through the past couple of years and much of the Cup team intact.
Milan Lucic addressed the team’s anticipation of heading on the road trip this afternoon following practice.
“Getting the feeling of getting back on the road, flying, getting into a hotel and all that fun stuff,” said No. 17. “We talked about it, that we were fortunate to have a lot of the same group of guys here and having that chemistry, which has helped out a lot.”
His teammate Chris Kelly, just a couple of stalls down, spoke to the Boston media with the same enthusiasm for getting to spend time with his fellow B’s.
“It’s been a long time. To get together with the guys… We’ll get a nice meal tonight and get ready for tomorrow.”
And that’s exactly how the road plays out… flights, buses, meals, rest and hockey.
The trip to NYC for Wednesday’s tango with NYR is my first traveling with the team, and it was fairly as I expected it to be. Throughout my years of swimming at the national level and then for Boston College, I had been on my fair share of road trips and flights to competitions. And they most always involved transportation, food, sleep and swimming. When I spent time after college working with USA Hockey, the layout was the same (just swap the swimming for hockey!)
So, it’s not surprising that the B’s keep it simple on the road - use it as a time to wind down, relax with each others’ company, share a few laughs, incorporate new teammates into the group. On this trip, the newcomers are Dougie Hamilton, Aaron Johnson, Chris Bourque and Jay Pandolfo (still on a PTO and can practice and travel with the team, but cannot yet be on the roster and suit up in games).
From the team charter, or “Bear Force One,” to the bus-ride into New York City (during rush hour traffic) and arrival at the hotel, the team spends the time catching up, getting a little shut-eye, relaxing, and mentally preparing for the game.
While the night of the arrival is low-key, tomorrow (Wednesday) is all business as the Black & Gold hit the ice around 11:30 a.m. at MSG for a morning skate.
One note on the arrival in NYC… the frigidity of Boston when we left Massachusetts didn’t compare to the whipping wind we felt after touching down in New York. Upon arriving, Anton Khudobin stealthily walked from the plane onto the bus and through the empty rows of seats, huffed, and said “feels like January outside….”
Apparently not listening to Anton, BostonBruinsTV video producer Jonny and I just ventured around the city in what turned out to be 18-degree weather to get the photo above of MSG before jetting back to the hotel - perfect weather for pond hockey, not so perfect for walking…