EDMONTON, AB - It's the city so nice they named it twice.
New York is like no other city in North America and quite likely the world. No wonder they call it the city that never sleeps. It doesn't matter what time of day or night or anywhere in between, there are people pacing, driving, running, talking and moving, which makes it so vibrant. Not to mention the taxis and the honking that seemingly never stops. There's a rush and a vibe associated with New York that you won't find in any of the other 30 NHL cities, and it's where the Oilers will spend the next six days.
Their travel plans changed a little with their Tuesday night game moved from Brooklyn to Long Island, but after that, the team will hunker down in one Manhattan hotel and set themselves up for a week that starts against the Islanders, continues against the Devils, and finishes up versus the Rangers. It's the right way to do it if you're a team with three opponents a short bus ride from each other. In the fast-paced world of pro sports where it's city, hotel, game, plane and repeat, it's nice to settle in, unpack, and have a place to call home for more than a night.
I'm not a big walker, but New York is the one city I don't mind roaming on foot. There are people to see, places to go, and shopping to be done on street corners. The Oilers won't have much time for sightseeing, but instead of locking themselves into a hotel room they can head out and do a little exploring. You can bet Gaetan Haas will be doing that, and who can blame him? First off, his family will be in NY for one game and he'll be there for the first time.
"I have never been there before," explained Haas. "I'm glad my family will be there to join me and see what it's like."
Joel Persson is part of the Oilers European invasion, and he's got a little more experience with NY than Haas.
"I was there once," explained the Swedish defenceman. "But I was only at the airport for a layover to a connecting flight. It's amazing to me there are more people in NY than in my homeland."
Persson is right. NY 19.49 million people. Sweden 10.04 million.
The way the Oilers schedule is set up, they will have some open time the following mornings after games on Tuesday and Thursday. There is also downtime after practices on Wednesday and Friday. One of the big things players like to do no matter what city they are in is go for walks. Get out, get some fresh air, and go for a stroll. No shortage of places to do that in the Big Apple. The only difference is they can do a little people watching and sightseeing along the way. It never gets old to even some of the older and more experienced players on the Oilers.
"I still remember my first game at MSG. It was one of the most unique experiences because of the energy in the building," said Mike Smith. "New York is something special because of everything that comes with being there. It's a trip you circle on your calendar."
A mix of mainly business and a small sample of pleasure as the Oilers get set to take a big bite out of the Big Apple.