Like most of his Nashville Predators teammates, it took Roman Josi a couple of weeks to wind down from his club's appearance in the Stanley Cup Final and everything that came along with it.
But once he was back home in Switzerland, the offseason routines took over, and as it does every summer, the itch to get back to Tennessee returned.
So, when Josi hit the ice for the first official day of on-ice practices of the 2017-18 season, the pearly whites were out in full force between the high-pace, full-ice drills.
"It was fun to be back, fun to be out there with the guys again," Josi said from the Predators locker room at Centennial Sportsplex.
The fun will continue with a number of two-group sessions over the coming days as Head Coach Peter Laviolette and his staff get a look at every little detail that must be worked out prior to opening night. Josi will undoubtedly be an integral part of that final group, as he has been for the past few seasons - not only as a member of Nashville's leadership group, but also a pillar of what is arguably the top defensive corps in the League.
That group took a hit when it was announced Ryan Ellis - who was also Josi's partner for the majority of the previous season - would be absent from the lineup until at least Christmastime. There's no replacing the bearded blueliner, but Josi believes the Preds have plenty who are capable of filling the spot for the time being.
"[Ellis] is such a huge part of our team, of our D corps," Josi said "It's definitely a big loss, but we have a lot of depth on our defense and that showed last year with a couple guys out and guys jumping in. [They] did a great job, so I'm sure it's going to be the same this year."
Video: Josi discusses the first team skate during camp
Much like the absence of Ellis, there are also vacancies to be filled in the leadership department with the retirement of Mike Fisher and departure of James Neal. An alternate captain last season on a regular basis, Josi figures to be a candidate to sport the 'C' whenever that decision is made, and although there aren't many who have worn a letter in the current locker room, the Preds have dealt with this before.
"With [Fisher] leaving, there's a lot of guys that have to step up and probably take on a bigger role," Josi said. "We were in the same situation last year with [Shea Weber] leaving and everybody just has to step up, and some guys will have to take a bigger role."
Who ultimately does, as General Manager David Poile has stated, will be determined during training camp and beyond, but no matter who ends up serving in those capacities, the goal is the same throughout the room.
"We didn't win anything last year, so we're definitely going to be hungry," Josi said. "We know how exciting it is to get that far, but like I said, we didn't win, so we're going to be a hungry team. We're going to be motivated, and you can tell guys are excited to be in camp and ready to get going.
Now that the first practice has concluded, the familiar sights and sounds back again, Josi can't help but think of doing it all over again. And no matter what journey the Preds take this season, it has indeed begun once more.
"The disappointment is always going to be there on not winning, but there's a lot of good things you took from the Final and a lot of great experiences we had last year," Josi said. "You get that close and you want to go back and you want to win that Cup. After a while, I think a lot of guys got hungry again to get going and get back into it. I think guys are excited to go back on the ice."