After signing or being traded to a new team during the summer, players start making plans to move and quickly get settled into their new city before training camp opens. Just like anyone who gets transferred, moving takes quite a bit of time, and work and decisions need to be handled quickly.
Anyone who has moved to a new city knows how hard it can be, especially with a family. All NHL teams recognize that and want to make it easier. To help their players with the transition, most now have a person dedicated to that specific task. The role is usually called something like coordinator of family services. This person can help with all of it, both moving to the city, getting settled and finding answers to issues that may come up during the season. This is a huge bonus when moving to a city you are not familiar with.
Where to move to? Can the team recommend a real estate agent, a moving company or a doctor? If the player has kids which schools should they put them in? Are there any babysitters? The family services coordinator can answer all of these and more.
The team leaders will reach out to the new guys. They will call to welcome them, give them the lay of the land about the team, the new team mates, as well as answer any questions. The day after I signed with the Oilers I got a call from Ethan Moreau.
We knew each other a little from playing against one another over the years but it was very classy that he called so quickly. For me, that spoke volumes as to what kind of a guy he was. We talked about the coach, MacT at the time, and what I could expect from him. I was already living in Edmonton so I didn’t need any help with getting to know the city but I was very interested in how the team travelled.
Moving back west to Edmonton wasn’t a concern for me but readjusting to all the extra miles on the plane during road trips was. Most western conference teams travel a lot more than eastern conference clubs. I had been spoiled playing for the Rangers. The team was rarely on the road and a five day road trip would be considered long.
By Edmonton standards five days was very short. Moreau explained that road trips of ten days were not uncommon but that the families of the guys on the team were very close. The wives/girlfriends/kids got together a lot while the team was on the road. As a new guy on a team that is the kind of intel that you will not get from anyone other than players actually on the team.
He was right about those longer road trips…I slept like a baby most of those flights!
Getting to know the team
New players don’t get to meet the bulk of their new team mates until camp. Camp is usually hectic between practices, games and all the extra guys around. It is usually about a week before the season when the main team is together and team bonds start to get established.
There are many ways to bring a team together quickly which is very important in helping to get off to a good start. Retreats into the woods for team bonding can work and so can team building programs.
I always found a team BBQ or mixer worked great as well. It was nice to meet all the guys significant others and kids. My style was chips and dip!
Previously by Jason Strudwick
- Can you check to make sure my phone is working?
- Free agency again?
- Draft day memories…
- When will the Oilers become Kings?
- It’s time to raise the age of draft eligible players
- Loose lips sink ships
- Is Ralph Krueger the right choice for the Oilers?
- 1994 Memorial Cup
- Thinking bigger
- It’s good to be the WHL King!