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Road Trip Journal: Winnipeg, Calgary & Edmonton

by Michael Smith / Carolina Hurricanes
Michael Smith

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VANCOUVER – Business or otherwise, this is my first time traveling to Canada, and what a trip it is. It began on Monday, Oct. 20 in Winnipeg and will end on the morning of Wednesday, Oct. 29, when the team travels across North America back to Raleigh.

Head coach Bill Peters had this piece of advice to rookies traveling on an extended road trip for the first time. I took it to apply to me, as well. “Two suits, minimum,” he said.

Check.

I also packed an extra pair of slacks, so I guess you could say I’ve got two-and-a-half suits.

Here we go!

Winnipeg

(Or Windy-Peg, am I right?)

I really did luck out on this trip. Knocking out Winnipeg in late October versus the dead of winter? Yes, please.

MTS Centre is an interesting little place. I say little because it seats right at 15,000 fans, making it the smallest arena in the league from a capacity standpoint. That said, the low-hanging roof can make for a raucous environment. It never got too loud in the building during Tuesday night’s game, a bit of a ho-hum 3-1 contest that featured pops of noise here and there.

And, of course, there was Earls. Got to do Earls.

Onto Calgary …

Calgary

Carolina wasn’t the only team working its way through a Western Canada road swing. In fact, in sort of an odd occurrence, there were four NHL teams in Calgary at the same time: the Canes, Lightning, Capitals and, of course, Flames.

On the way back from lunch at Milestone’s Grill and Bar on Wednesday, Senior Director of Communications and Team Services Kyle Hanlin and I stumbled into quite the elevator encounter: we hopped on in the lobby with none other than a robe-clad Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula, who were coming up from the spa. Classic.

Scotiabank Saddledome is an old barn, and the press box is a bit of an adventure; it’s suspended above the ice, with television and radio on one side and print and other forms of media on the other. And you can feel it sway slightly. Not the most comforting, but the view is pretty solid.

Tough bounces of the night: I was dubbed a writer for “Carolian Web,” and Kyle Hanlin became “Kylin Hanlin.”

A day removed from the shooting in Ottawa, Brody Sutter, who was playing in his hometown in just his second career NHL game, said, “I think ‘O, Canada’ will be something special tonight. That will definitely give me chills.”

A moment of silence preceded both countries’ anthems, and “O, Canada” was certainly something special to hear.

A hop, skip and a jump away …

Edmonton

Of the Canadian cities visited thus far, we spent the least amount of time here, flying in after the game in Calgary and leaving just under 24 hours later.

The hotel at which we stayed in Edmonton has a “canine ambassador,” and her name is Smudge. As the team left an optional morning skate, she laid on her bed, not at all distracted with the hubbub around her.

After seeing Smudge and her warm and inviting personality, I’m pretty sure we need a team dog. Make it happen.

Rexall Place is another aging building, the third oldest in the league behind Madison Square Garden and Nassau Coliseum, and there’s some rich history inside of its walls. Of course, the most relevant history to the Hurricanes came in June 2006, when the Canes and Oilers played three games in that building as they battled for Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Oilers are slated to move into a bigger arena in downtown Edmonton for the 2016-17 season.

Similar to the Saddledome, the press boxes at Rexall Place are suspended on either side of the ice, but again, the view was hard to beat. The atmosphere in the building was pretty electric, from when the Oilers skated onto the ice through their signature rig (which was neat to witness in person) to stirring renditions of both anthems and on through what was a back-and-forth contest.

And again in the "I lucked out on this trip" department: it's apparently supposed to snow in Edmonton next week.

***

We landed in Vancouver on Friday night, and we’ll be here until Wednesday. I’ll have another journal entry on our time in Vancouver later next week after we return home to Raleigh. Until then, enjoy this view from our hotel:

Vancouver



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