While Predators All-Star defensemen Shea Weber
and Ryan Suter
were skating alongside the National Hockey League’s biggest names last Sunday afternoon in Kanata, Ont., their Nashville teammate Jordin Tootoo
was over 1,000 miles away, tweeting from his iPhone. “Had a great few days relaxing and rejuvenating the body in South Beach,” he typed. “Now it's time to make the playoff run with a great group of guys.”
Tootoo, like the majority of his teammates and fellow players throughout the league, wasn’t fortunate enough to get an All-Star nod from the NHL. While many would certainly welcome the honor, most seem just as pleased to find a little down time amid an 82-game schedule filled with aches, back-to-back matches and jet lag.
“I was deep-sea fishing,” Tootoo, a 28-year-old native of Nunavut, Canada, tells me. “It kind of reminded me of back home. That’s part of my getaway when I’m in the off-season. I love fishing and hunting.”
Predators center Mike Fisher
made similar plans, teetering along the limits of cell phone coverage while exploring the Florida Everglades and chartering his own deep-sea fishing expedition.
“It’s a time to kind of get your mind away from the game,” Fisher says. “Everything is game after game, practice at the rink every day, and traveling. So it’s nice to kind of get your mind away from it. Rest up a little bit. Get ready for that push for playoffs. It comes at a great time. Most of the guys were able to get away and have a really good, relaxing time.”
One might think that teams who approach the break on a roll—like Nashville did this season—would prefer that there be no break at all, no opportunity to snap the momentum. Yet Nashville head coach Barry Trotz sees a lot of value in the league-wide vacation.
“I think it’s necessary for all the players in the league really,” Trotz says. “Not only our team but for everybody in the league, just with the intensity of the schedule, the number of games, the travel—especially for the Western teams. … You’re going to see better hockey because of it.”
Trotz took time away from the game too.
“I was like a player. I took four or five days off,” he says. “I turned the switch on about 1:00 [p.m. Sunday] afternoon, got myself back in here. I peaked a little early. At 6:30 [a.m. Monday] I was in here and there was not a soul here.
“As a coach, and I can just speak for me, I need that break. I think it’s good not only for me, it’s good for my family, just for our mental state of health.”