The epic road trip begins, though I'm only in for 10 of the first 18 days. The plane is full en route to Toronto, management and ownership is well represented as well as media members and contest winners.
So far ,the biggest suitcase award goes to Dan Murphy of Rogers Sportsnet but there is plenty of competition and surprisingly, I'm not in the running. The biggest challenge of this kind of trip is packing for chilly Eastern Canada as well as hopefully hot and sunny Florida and again, it doesn't apply to me.
It was a quiet flight for the most part. Jannik Hansen was conspicuously missing. He was reassigned to Manitoba. Hansen will get a chance to play some real minutes down there through the Olympic break. The team likely doesn't feel it necessary to carry 14 forwards.
The movie of choice on route was “The Hurt Locker”. I really liked it, even if my cameraman Rory McGarry got bored halfway through. I appreciated the fact that something wasn't blowing up every other minute, he didn't.
The team arrives in Toronto a full two days before Saturday night's game. They will practice at the Air Canada Center Friday. It will be interesting to see how much local media attend practice. The Canucks only make it out this way once a year and while it's always a media frenzy, last year's interest level was higher because of Mats Sundin. I'm not sure it will be matched this time around, especially with the Canucks and Hockey Night in Canada burying the hatchet earlier this week.
The wonderful flight crew on the charter did some of the math for this road trip. The first portion (eight games, 18 days through February 14th) will involve over 18 hours in the air and two hours by bus (from Montreal to Ottawa). The team will cover over 11,500 km.
The second half of the trip is a bit easier, but it comes on the heels of the Olympic games. It entails six games in 17 days, and over 16 hours of flying time. Total km covered: 9,129 km.
The grand total is 35 days on the road, 36 hours of flying and 20,577 km traveled.
And this is just day one.