During the National Hockey League’s regular season on one-game road trips, the visiting club will fly to the host city the night before, get a good night’s rest and then attend the 11:30 a.m. skate. That would be followed by a team meal and a nice afternoon nap at the hotel.
The scenario changes a bit during the NHL preseason. Single-game trips in September are simply day trips.
For tonight’s contest in Vancouver, the Sharks skated at Sharks Ice at San Jose in the morning, ate a quick meal and then departed for Vancouver and will go directly to GM Place for the game.
These day trips are standard operating procedure during the preseason for all NHL teams.
“I don’t like it or dislike it,” forward Jody Shelley said. “You just go with it.”
“I don’t know if it makes a difference, but it doesn’t make it easier,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “It’s a fact of life.”
It may not be like the regular season, but a sense of routine is developed by some.
“You still get a routine, we get to sleep,” Shelley said. “We wake up and have a snack.”
Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic
isn’t a big fan of the preseason travel routine as it doesn’t let him prepare as he normally would.
“I don’t like it,” Vlasic said. “It’s hard for the new guys who want to make the team.
“During the season, it’s great,” he added. “You can take a nice nap at a hotel. You can sleep on the plane, but there’s a lot of noise. It’s mentally tougher.”
What works in the exhibition season would never work in October.
“I would never want to do it in the regular season,” defenseman Dan Boyle
“It’s only four games, not 41,” said Vlasic as he tried to lessen the strain.
These travel conditions are the norm for younger players in the American Hockey League or in juniors. In these settings, three games in three nights is a common occurrence.
“If you’re a young player trying to make the team,” McLellan said, “you should feel fresh regardless.”
ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL
Last year while playing with Nashville, 5-foot-9 Scott Nichol started a fight with Joe Thornton
. In Monday’s preseason game at Anaheim, a Ducks player took a run at forward prospect Fraser McLaren. Who came in to assist the 6-foot-5 McLaren? Nichol. And that’s the type of grit Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson was looking for when he signed Nichol as a free agent.
“I love it,” McLaren said. “It’s great he came in and it’s a sign of a great teammate. I was joking with him after that I got up to go after (the Ducks player) and he was already there.”
The Sharks will visit Vancouver tonight at 7 p.m. and will return home for their final HP Pavilion preseason game on Friday night against Anaheim. Tickets are available at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office or at www.ticketmaster.com.