The Oilers start their four game road trip off with a tough match up this Saturday against the Boston Bruins. The Bruins are playing well and they will want to bank points going into the Olympic break.
The game is at 1 PM Boston time/11 AM Edmonton time. These early starts can really mess with a player’s internal time clock. The 1 PM start time is usually the time a player has just finished his pregame meal and is heading for his pregame nap. It takes a lot of commitment mentally to get engaged and ready to go. The more often you do it the easier it gets.
Playing in the Eastern Conference really got me used to these start times. At first it was a hard adjustment but as the time went on I really looked forward to them. No morning skate and a normal bed time after! What a treat! Especially for players that have a hard time falling to sleep after a game.
Every player develops his own techniques to be ready for these games. Some get up early, eat and go back to bed. Others sleep in, eat at the last second, down cups of coffee and then run to the rink. Sometimes coaches have their own ideas and force the issue…
In the 2009-2010 season then-head coach Pat Quinn had his own idea of how to get his Oilers players ready to go for the November 15th game against the Atlanta Thrashers. It was a 2 PM start.
Pat decided the best way to get the guys going was to get up early and go for a walk! So at 7 AM we were all lined up in the lobby with strength coach Simon Bennett. After ‘Good Mornings’ all around we were out the door on an early morning walk like a bunch of retirees trying to stay in shape!
The moment I heard this plan I hated the idea. In all my years of hockey I was never one to complain about schedules. This one really hit me the wrong way! I felt it was a bad idea at the time and still feel it today.
I walked beside Simon most of our walk through scenic Atlanta, past a mall and complained the whole way! Why would Pat get the whole team up so early when we have a game a few hours later? Simon didn’t really have answers for me, but it felt better to me to bitch then to hold it in!
After forty-five minutes we returned to the hotel and settled in for a nice long pregame meeting. We then ate and all rushed back to our rooms to try to catch a quick nap before the scheduled 11 AM bus. Needless to say I don’t think any of our guys were feeling to bright-eyed for the match against the mighty Thrashers.
I know you are all thinking that this sounds like soft hockey players complaining. From the outside I can understand that but reality is different. A hockey player needs all the rest he can get to be firing on all cylinders.
I wish I could tell you that Pat’s technique worked, it didn’t. A late third period goal by the Thrashers led them to a 3-2 victory. We actually played a pretty decent game.
The more I think about it I believe Pat wasn’t worried about our rest. He was motivating us. He thought that by getting us up early he would set us off in a bad mood which would carry into the game. As I remember it worked. I was pissed off the whole game. When I am a coach one day I will mess with my players the same way!
What a night!
Ben Scrivens! Wow. What a night last night! He was on fire! I cannot remember another performance by a goalie as impressive as that. He was forced to make so many incredible saves because of poor defensive play in front of him. He really bailed his team out. They owe him a few road dinners over the next week.
The overall team defence was overshadowed by Scrivens’ performance. They had been solid in the two games prior to last night but took a huge step back against tougher competition last night.
There is no doubt that winning the game last night is a nice lift for the Oilers but coaches look at the bigger picture. Outside of Scrivens and the top unit of Hall, Eberle and Nuge the big picture last night was ugly!
Hockey Legends Camp in Las Vegas
Tonight on my TSN radio show I will have actor Michael Rosenbaum. He is a cool guy and played Lex Luthor on the hit show Smallville. He is a huge sports fan and a great storyteller! He will be on at 9:45 PM.
He is coming on to talk sports and a great event he is a part of June 24-27 in Las Vegas called Hockey Legends Fantasy Camp. This is a camp where retired players like Chris Chelios, Jeremy Roenick and Ron Duguay will play hockey with attendees and tell their incredible stories over a few dinners and drinks.
The NHL awards are also in Vegas. This camp will set you up with tickets to that as well plus the after parties.
The event is being put together in part to support the NHL Alumni association. You can get more details at hockeylegendscamp.com.