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Mountain men

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- On Monday, the Calgary Flames will hop on a bus headed for Banff to engage in some team bonding before the regular season kicks off this coming weekend.

"We know that the goal for this trip is to get ourselves closer together and to find that atmosphere was around here from Christmas on last year. That's really what it's all about," winger Alex Tanguay said.

"We'll get to meet some of the younger guys like Roman (Horak) and Smitty (Derek Smith) and all those guys. It's always important to get to know your teammates a bit better."

Despite the fact the team has been together for the better part of the last month, Tanguay noted that it was hard to really gel as a group thanks to the distractions of day-to-day life. For the most part, players only see each other at the rink.

"Even though it's training camp, we all have families. You come here, you do your things and then you go home."

Tanguay believes the Banff trip will speed up the process of bringing everyone together as the 2011-12 season draws nearer, comparing their three days in the mountain to a road trip.

"It's going to be nice to be with the boys. The road is really where we bond. When we go to movies, when we go to dinner, when we do those types of things."

His fellow winger Niklas Hagman believes these kinds of trips are more beneficial than time spent on the road as the rigors of road trips can limit time spent together.

"You get to know the guys a little bit better when you're spending a little more time and it's not just going to the hotel, play a game and then (off to) a different city. You want to get your rest.

"Now it's you go play a little golf for a couple days, you skate, you practice, you guy and have lunch with the guys. You spend all the time together. It's good and I like that kind of stuff."

On Sunday, the team participated in a light-hearted, hour long practice that featured a ton of three-on-three competitions. The spirited skate was full of cheering and laughter from both the players and the coaching staff.

"We've got a little bit of time so it's nice to get to spend some time having fun on the ice," Tanguay smiled. "We know that, starting Tuesday, we're going to be on ice and getting ourselves ready for the regular season. Today was fun to just come out and have fun with the boys.

"It's nice to have relaxing days like today but we know that Tuesday, it's back to work."

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