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Oct. 31, 2008
5 p.m. Pacific
|Oct. 31 Wild News ... |
The club announced today that Mikko Koivu, who opened the season as the team's captain, would continue wearing the 'C' for the month of November
Back from a spirited practice at Jobing.com Arena. After last night's 0-for-10 power play, the man-advantage unit got a bit of work today. Antti Miettinen was given the day off to rest his lower body injury that's been nagging him, but he'll be fine for tomorrow.
We called an audible at the hotel and had the guys check in when we got there. A few of us had keys that didn't work when we got back, but the front desk made some new ones for us.
It's beautiful out here. It's hot, but not unbearable, and it was a nice walk in the shade back from the arena. And I forget how pretty it is here and how many mountains you can see. Mountains and desert, prettier than you think!
I'm going to walk around a bit and grab a bite to eat -- still picturing that pork chop from earlier (see below), and hopefully I'll be in bed early. The time change usually only takes a day or so to get used to.
I'll talk to you from the rink in the morning!
Greetings from 34,000 feet above Kearney, Neb., on our way to Phoenix.
I got dropped off at the airport because my car wanted to be in the garage for the next 10 days. I arrived just before 11 a.m. for the noon flight and was greeted by Bill Johnson, a member of NHL security that meets us at the airport.
We had a brief delay getting on the plane as catering was 15 minutes late. But by 11:25 we were boarding, and by 11:50 everyone was on the plane.
Our flight attendants, Cookie, Sam and Brie, were dressed up like hockey players today. And not just hockey players -- Brent Burns, Josh Harding
and Stephane Veilleux
. Sam is dressed up with a Burns jersey, and, coincidentally enough, has a tooth "blacked out" -- the same tooth Burns is missing.
We took off at 12:15 -- Friday is a big travel day and we had to wait for air traffic control.
I read my new psychological thriller for the first bit of the flight. It's almost 700 pages (that oughta impress Brent Burns) but have 10 days ahead of me.
It came time for lunch, the choice of salmon or barbeque pork chop. I'm not a huge fan of either, so I went for the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Travis Green, seated next to me, went with the pork chop. As Travis said "it should come with a head." It was the biggest piece of pig I have ever seen. He took a picture of it after his first few bites to commemorate the occasion. There was twice that much mac and cheese, too, before he started eating. My only regret is that Wild.com's Jamie MacDonald wasn't with us, I'd have liked to have seen the hurting he could put on that chop.
Marian Gaborik and Owen Nolan, both with lower body injuries, are not on the trip with us, but could join us along the way. It's easier for injured guys to stay behind and skate and work out with Kirk Olson, our strength coach, since we have limited ice time on the road.
We'll arrive in Phoenix about 1 p.m. local time with the two-hour time change, then take the pretty lengthy bus ride to Glendale. We only have one bus this leg of the trip -- there is no TV for Saturday's game, and there's just enough room for Bob and Tom on the team bus. It'll be the only time we use the bus until we go to the airport Sunday morning. It cuts down on stress levels for me at practices and such when the guys can walk to and from the hotel.
The bus is actually dropping us off at the hotel, which is next to the arena. The guys can drop their bags off and walk next door to practice while the equipment truck drives to the arena. They're also weighing our equipment right when we land, something they do at the beginning of each season.
This is a unique trip for many reasons, and not just because of its length. We're starting out with 90 degrees-plus today in Glendale. In San Jose, it will likely be chilly and fall-like. In Denver, you never quite know, and it's been nice but expected to be cold by the time we arrive. And then comes my favorite stop, Vancouver, where it's typically pretty chilly with a good chance of rain. So packing-wise, it was a challenge. This is a "three-suit trip" as we call it in the business, and I'll still have to dry clean.
It's also unique because we fly out from three of the four cities the day after we play. Typically, we fly out immediately after the game. But San Jose has an airport curfew, incoming and outgoing, so the only time we'll leave right after the game is from Denver on Thursday. We are hoping to be able to fly home Saturday after the game in Vancouver, but there's currently not a plane for us to use. We generally stay over, fly home and then practice after playing in Vancouver. But with four days off, Sunday could potentially be an off day, so it wouldn't matter much if we got in at 5 a.m. And, then I'd get to go to the Vikings/Packers game (while bleary eyed, no doubt). So stay tuned for that developing situation.
We spend the most time in San Jose, which will be neat for me to meet up with Rick Bronwell, Sharks equipment manager, and their new head coach Todd McLellan. We were all together in Houston. I've got some good stories on both that I'll mix into the blog this week. Rick got me into blogging (he was the brains, I was the creative) in Houston. I'll try to dig up an old "Bronwell Blog" too.
If you happened to catch ESPN's SportsCenter last night, you saw Scott Van Pelt and Matthew Barnaby talk about the Wild game last night. Aaron and I have been working with a new producer in Bristol, and they are trying their best to get more hockey on their shows. The Koivu brothers were a good story for them last night.
According to the monitor up front, we have 1:18 of flying time left and are going 499 m.p.h. We are just about to fly over Colorado Springs.
This afternoon at practice I'll get to see my friend Jon, who went to Wingate University several years after me but worked for David Sherwood, the world's best sports information director, just like me. Jon works in ticketing for the Coyotes. How about two kids from a small private school in North Carolina both ending up in the NHL? It's also a good trip because my friend Tobin and his family are coming to Saturday's game. Tobin was my counterpart in San Antonio while I worked in Houston. He's now working for a PR company in Phoenix.
I'll have quite a bit of time for e-mails on the road, especially with a couple of non gamedays in San Jose, so keep the notes coming to firstname.lastname@example.org
. I'm going to try to get to work on a couple game program features and maybe get some more reading in before we land in the desert. P.S.
I just had one of those classic moments where I had fallen asleep in my seat and literally woke up because I could smell the cookie plate two rows ahead of me. Good night, again ...