Members of the Predators had a surprise waiting for them upon arriving in Canada on Sunday afternoon.
Just hours after they departed Nashville - which meant many players endured an emotional goodbye with family before exiting their vehicles - the Preds opened the doors to their rooms at the JW Marriott in Edmonton to find those beloved faces smiling back at them again.
A pair of photo frames rested on each player's nightstand filled with images that included their significant others, children, parents and even some dogs to remind them of those who love them most.
"The Preds did an unbelievable job with the pictures of our family," Captain Roman Josi said. "Every guy really, really appreciated that. Everybody's going to miss their families, so that was really cool to see out in the room."
The idea was born long before the trip to the Secure Zone, a place the Predators could be residing through early October if things go well on the ice. With that in mind, it was important to find a way to make a hotel room seem a little less far from home.
"The plan is to be here for a long time," Predators Manager of Hockey Operations Brandon Walker said. "To be able to give guys something that feels a little bit more like home when they check in and something that they can look at every day, remind them of the people that are at home and feel a little bit more connected to them while we're here for a long time is a good thing."
Walker had some assistance from some spouses on the team, and between reaching out individually and pulling photos off of social media, the group was able to compile images for every player. The pictures were then sent off to be printed, frames were filled and then shipped to Edmonton where hotel staff took care of placing the items in the rooms before players arrived.
"You've got to make your little one-bedroom apartment here for the next couple of months as homey as we can," Preds defenseman Mattias Ekholm said. "They've done a great job for us with the pictures."
The Predators occupy two entire floors of the hotel, so team logos have been placed on the wall at each room, and signage with the Win For Smashville slogan also greet players and staff in the elevator lobbies each day.
But the most important portraits are those faces that will reside on the nightstands for now inspiring the Preds to make sure this journey is worth it.
"Everybody's got a phone full of pictures, but there's something to be said for waking up in the morning and you over on your nightstand and there's your kids looking at you," Walker said. "For some guys, it's their dogs or their family. We're going to be here for a long time, that's the plan, and if it makes them feel a little bit more comfortable, a little bit more at home and a little more connected, then that's a good thing."