December 28 2011 12:06PM
Seven games, thirteen days, seven time changes and over 13,500 km to travel....OUCH. That works out to just a little less than flying from Edmonton to Vancouver 13 days in a row. That is the Oilers current road trip.
Even though they came home for the Christmas break the game in Vancouver there remains another six more to go...lots of time to come together for the long term.
Long road trips can bring a team closer with all the time it allows to spend together. I always felt days off between games was a great time for the team to go for dinner, a movie or an afternoon at a bowling alley. These activities can be great team builders.
It can be hard to really understand and get to know a team mate when in a rink setting. Some players can't relax there. The pressure prevents them from being themselves. But when bowling and they turn into Roy Munson, that all changes when they are trying to make a 7 - 10 split on aisle ten!
I don't think it is important for every member of a team to get along all the time. A little friction is actually very healthy to help clear the air every once in a while. I do think respect of each other and each player's role is very important.
It can be obvious which guys don't respect their team mates or think they are above them all. Watch for players who shake their heads when a pass intended for them is missed or when a goalie stares at his own dman when he created a goal because of a screen. I could never stand for that. Spending time together can force these types of players to change in order to stay with the culture or be forced out.
I can think of only one guy I played with whom I hope I never play with again. No, it isn't Avery, Robin Brownlee!!!
For the Oilers players, I hope this time on the road gives them a chance to identify who isn't pulling in the same direction as the others, who can be straightened out and who needs to be thrown out.
Coming back from an injury like Ryan Whitney had is very frustrating and difficult. Not only did he miss the bulk of his training time in the summer but just as he was coming around he got a knee injury! It most likely feels as if he has been playing catch up all year.
Patience is the order of the day not only for the fans but more importantly for Ryan himself.
The Weise hit has generated a lot of controversy. Most people's opinion of the hit depends on where their loyalties lie. I didn't like the hit and can't wait to see Plante beat him to the ground next game, but I don't think it is a suspension. Plante will have to take matters into his own hands, something I think more players should do.