It has become obvious in Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper's short tenure that he is a player's coach. One way he has helped that attitude transpire is through mini team getaways like this one, Thursday through Saturday in Orlando.
"Distractions are a big thing," Cooper said. "It's a nine month season and everybody has got to get away, but it's time to get back to work. We get away from the city and it's more of a work environment. It may not seem like it when we walk outside and it's 80 degrees and sunny, but it truly is. We get more done in a short amount of time."
While players took just more than a week off, spirits were high upon the Bolts reuniting with teammates. And with a tough schedule right out of the gate, they were just as happy to get back to work on the ice as they were to see one another.
"Our main focus is to get back into playing and game mode," Mark Barberio said. "We've been having mini games in practice, which have been fun, but also work on game situations. It's also nice to continue to build our team and get closer."
The Lightning hope that during this time players will be able to dust off the rust and others will be able to nurse themselves back to health so that they can put a completely healthy team on the ice next Thursday in Nashville versus the Predators.
WEEK AHEAD GOOD TEST FOR STAMKOS
One of a handful of players that is eyeing a return is Steven Stamkos, who was surprised to find out he was not going to be able to compete in the Winter Olympics two weeks ago.
Yet the break seems to be just what he needed to get back to 100-percent.
"If you asked him if he could play right now he'd most definitely say he could," Cooper said. "There were a lot of times where he said he was okay, but he was still feeling the effects of something, but I don't see that anymore."
While the Bolts were nearly hoping for him to be back pre-Olympic break, Cooper said that his return is much more of a reality now. An upcoming X-ray after returning from Orlando will further determine his fate for Tampa Bay's first contest back.
Cooper did not formally schedule any activities for the Lightning off the ice, but players have already took it upon themselves to plan their own fun in Orlando.
"There is a wide array of activities planned," Crombeen said. "We have a competition going on that we'll add up at the end of practices and results with one half of the team buying the other half of the team dinner, so those are the little things we'll do to have some fun while we were away."
Much of the team plans to golf at some point, but for those that are not a golfing extraordinaire, the Orlando Magic game and Universal Studios were other activities mentioned.
ODDS 'N ENDS
Matt Carle, Tyler Johnson and Valtteri Filppula are not expected to practice over the next three days in Orlando according to Cooper.
While Anders Lindback (lower body) practiced the past two days, his return date remains unknown. With his status up in the air Cooper said it is likely that netminder Kristers Gudlevskis will come to Tampa Bay once he returns from the Olympics.
Crombeen played for the Orlando Solarbears during the 2012-13 season lockout and said he was happy to be back to Orlando and skate in their facilities again.