Hey everyone. I left Tampa at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon and after a short lay-over in Washington DC, I found myself on a seven-hour plane ride straight to Zurich, Switzerland where the 2009 World Hockey championships are taking place. To pass the time on the plane I watched a movie, ate dinner and slept the rest of the way, knowing the six-hour time difference (ahead) was going to take a toll on my body.
I arrived at 8 a.m. in the mourning, and was met by Hockey Canada officials to take me to our hotel. To my surprise the weather was sunny and mild (65 degrees), so me and a few of the guys who also arrived around the same time decided to take a walk and check out the downtown area known as "old town". We had a few hours to kill before we headed to the rink for practice at 4 p.m. It was nice getting to know a couple of the guys before we headed to the ice for the first time.
Unfortunately for the players who arrived on the Monday (only six forwards and seven defensemen), we had a tough skate to get our legs back into game shape. It also didn't help that we only had 13 guys on the ice. The rest of the guys flew in the next day and we finally had the whole team together for the first time. It was pretty cool for me to meet all the guys because I’m always battling against them game in and game out during the NHL season. To be able to get to know them on a personal level and see how great the guys are off the ice is pretty special. For a young guy like me who grew up idolizing some of the players that I am now on a team with is a dream come true.
The coaching staff ran us through our first practice as a team and the guys got a feel for playing with each other. I was practicing on a line with our captain, Shane Doan, and Marty St. Louis. Hopefully I will play with those two guys once the tournament starts because they are two great players. Marty and I are pretty excited about playing with each other because of the chemistry we developed over the course of this past season. Hopefully we can take advantage of that.
After practice we had a team dinner in the "old town" at a really nice restaurant. We all sat out on the cobblestone patio and got to know each other some more over a great meal. The guys on the team are all great guys and the chemistry seems to be coming along great which is key in these short tournaments. We have one more practice before we play our first game against Belarus on Friday. I am looking forward to starting the tournament and will keep you guys updated as the tournament goes along. Thanks!!!