|Jaroslav Spacek (Photo: Getty Images)
Our preseason road schedule was once again pretty basic this year. The good thing about most of the preseason games is the fact that we leave the morning of the game from Buffalo, head out to play the game then come home right after.
We were in and out of Detroit and Washington earlier in the week, but the back-to-back games in Canada to conclude our preseason had the team spending a lot of time traveling within 48 hours.
We left for our game in Montreal on Saturday morning and headed to the rink. After about a 20-minute ride to the Bell Centre, the guys got ready for the morning skate. The first thing most players do once they arrive at the rink the day of the game is to walk out of the player tunnel or bench and check out the arena and their opponent’s practice for a few minutes.
As the Canadiens were working on some shooting drills, it was great to see a familiar face on the ice - out working the blueline was former Sabres defenseman Jaro Spacek.
I’ll admit it looked odd seeing him in red, but he looked very happy to see his teammates walk in. (FYI, while on the topic of “Spacho”, there are still no official plans for the future of the team’s adopted “pigeon” now without him playing in Buffalo).
The boys got a good laugh later in the day when they saw a giant poster of him outside the rink. Even better was watching Jaro on the scoreboard in Montreal and hearing him say “Je Suis Jaroslav Spacek” in French with his deep Czech accent during the team’s intro video of the game.
Although there was very light media coverage in the morning and even post-game, we did have one group around our looker room for most of the day. There was a producer and small film crew following Sabres forward Jason Pominville
The French crew has been filming their documentary on the winger since the middle of summer (in both French and English of course). They were very gracious and I hope they were able to gather some great footage and interviews. I know they will be heading to Buffalo soon as well.
After a tough loss to the Habs, the team got a little break in our travel schedule - or so we thought.
Instead of flying straight to Toronto post-game as we normally would, the team stayed over in Montreal for the evening. A few extra hours to relax and a chance to get a good sleep before the morning is usually never a bad thing.
After an early bus trip to the airport, it was off to T.O. Once we landed in Toronto, we were greeted by an hour-long traffic delay heading to the Air Canada Centre, thanks to many Downtown road closings due to the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.
After quick a morning skate, the team returned to the rink a little earlier than usual. All the televisions in the locker room were quickly turned to the Bills-Saints game. I always think it’s great how interested our players are in the Bills and how many of the guys are huge Bills fans.
Many of our guys are good friends with some of their players and it’s cool to see that shared support among our local teams.
So after seven goals scored and a win against the Leafs, we boarded our bus and headed back over the border. Before we hit the road, we were able to have a special and rare treat to celebrate the fast-paced and draining 16-days of training camp (plus four additional days for the rookies!).
Sabres Strength and Conditioning Coach Doug McKenney does an awesome job reviewing and organizing all the menus for team meals for the guys. He is very good at analyzing and charting everything the players eat and use to replenish their bodies after games and workouts.
In honor of the end of camp, the team was able to deviate from the training table for one night only…Outside the bus was a table of Harvey’s hamburgers, fries and poutines! This is a big deal because it is usually a once a season surprise and something that makes everyone in our travel group smile from ear to ear. It is amazing how excited everyone gets! Overall, a pretty uneventful trip, but a good way to end the preseason….now the fun begins!