I get a discount at the team store, there are free Dice & Ice posters from years past in the lunchroom, I’m friends with FIN and as far as autographed pucks from traded players goes, I got the hook up.
Oh, right. I also get to travel with the team aboard Air Canucks, stay in luxurious hotels, eat like a king and see the best of North America.
Although I’m the youngest and least seasoned traveler on Canucks road trips, this is my sixth season with the team and along the way I’ve picked up a few tips for traveling with the Canucks.
If you ever find yourself aboard the team plane along for a road trip, this list will help you acclimate.
Here are 6 Things you should know about traveling with the Canucks.AIR CANUCKS
I remember my first time flying Air Canucks like it was yesterday – in fact my therapist and I talked about it just yesterday. I was all bright eyed and bushy tailed, full of pep and oozing enthusiasm; forget the airstairs, I’m pretty sure I floated up to the plane. Once on board, my heart raced faster than the 100-metre dash of lovechild between Usain Bolt and a cheetah. Just relax, don’t trip, find an empty seat. Luckily I was one of the first ones on the plane so seats were readily available, I took a deep breath and ironically hankered down right in Hank Sedin’s seat. He politely asked me to move and within seconds there was a puff of smoke and a Derek shaped hole in the side of the plane. I now pay attention to the seating chart.WHAT THE WHAT?
On the most recent trip we visited Ottawa, New York, Carolina and Nashville and with how the travel worked out, we stayed in four different cities for four straight nights – four cities in 56 hours, to be exact. I remember waking up in Nashville the Monday morning without half a clue where I was and by that late in the trip, you just accept being lost. Every hotel room looks the same and unless you’re in Winnipeg or Florida in January, the weather likely doesn’t help differentiate cities. So I make the awkward phone call to the front desk and ask them what city we’re in; best response I’ve received so far: “Is everything okay sir? Are you hungry? I’ll send up a complimentary breakfast.” Jot down a point for being daft! GET TO WORK
I am not on vacation, I am not on vacation, I am not on vacation. At the beginning of every trip I have to repeat this to myself three times because with the absurd legroom, meals that tantalize taste buds and no one to look after but myself, just the initial flight feels like a dream. Reality kicks in after an hour or two when I look around and see everyone else working; I close the mini-umbrella in my orange juice, return my seat to the upright and locked position and turn It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia off in favour of doing some blog or feature writing or Behind the Lens captioning. I am not on vacation, I am not on vacation, I am not on vacation.PRACTICE DAY
Every road trip is different. Some are more travel intensive than others and begin with a five-hour flight through three time zones, others are a quick jaunt down the coast and your phone is barely in airplane mode when the wheels touch ground. On travel days I keep to myself and prep for the trip, it’s practice days that are the most fun and more often than not, produce gold. It’s informal on non-game days, guys are loose and jovial and anything can happen. In Ottawa, for example, the Canucks played basketball to warm-up because the court was set up, which made for some great content. Later at practice, someone hid Dale Weise’s helmet and everyone had a good laugh. The more road practice days, the better the content and better look you get into the personalities of your favourite players. Practice makes perfect. GAME DAY
I have no idea what it takes to play in the NHL – I’m a subpar skater with mosquito-speed shot. I have no idea how the guys get prepped to go to battle, I just know to stay out of their way. Practice days and game days are night and day different, no more good times, fun times, it’s serious focus. I don’t speak unless spoken to for the most part. The last thing I ever want is someone blaming his lack of focus after a loss on the idiotic question Derek Jory asked pre-game. That scenario only seems farfetched if you don’t properly grasp the vastness of my tomfoolery and shenanigans. Shut it down on game days and nobody gets hurt.SNAP BACK TO REALITY
Returning to Vancouver is often the weirdest part of traveling with the Canucks. Gone is the comfort of a scheduled routine and ability to just focus on the task at hand, but seeing my son and loved ones are worth the trade off. Where it gets tricky is in switching roles and how I talk seems to change the most. On the road you’ve got to be quick witted and sharp with the tongue or the likes of Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler and Jason Garrison will eat you alive. Away from the guys, regular people don’t playfully antagonize each other the way they do, so the harsh drollness catches friends off guard. There’s a time and place and travelling with the Canucks is the perfect time, regardless of the place.