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Stealing Harvard

Out of sight, out of mind.

That’s my goal when I’m on the road with the Canucks; I take the fly on the wall approach to everything. I want the guys to be themselves and act as if I’m not there at all.

There’s a certain trust that comes with that and by now they know I’m not out for blood. I’m out to figure out what makes them unique from each other and the team as a whole unique from other teams.

Freeing them from their routine is a way to accomplish both. A scheduling conflict took care of this Friday as TD Banknorth Garden was primed for a Boston Celtics/Indiana Pacers game last night and otherwise unavailable for the Canucks to practice.

Bring on Harvard University.

The Bright Hockey Center, home of the men’s and women’s teams, is a cozy rink, red bench seating, a few banners in the rafters, a good feeling of history and character, you know the kind. The Canucks do too. It was the track and field facility next door, a 30 second hallway walk from the locker room, which made for an interesting story.

Put a group of professional athletes, men in this case, on the sidelines of a track and field facility while actual track and field athletes are warming up, practicing and cooling down, and the discussions are hilarious.

“One-hundred meter race, right now, me and you,” I overheard three or four times. No one actually raced, but David Booth took it upon himself to prove he could run a four-minute mile, and he did (pictured above).

Alex Edler did a few laps as well, but only after demonstrating proper form for the hammer toss. Someone was doing it wrong on the field in the middle of the track and Edler, who actually competed in hammer toss growing up, had a few tips.

He also did high jump in his younger days, but those days are clearly behind him as he attempted a jump and immediately became one with the mat.

Cody Hodgson, eying up the long jump, wasn’t interested in competing.

“Think they’d let me make a sand angel?”

Kids today, I tell ya.

Hodgson actually dressed for the occasion and was vindicated at the track. Let me rewind to breakfast earlier in the day: Hodgson had his back to me at a booth across the restaurant so I couldn’t see what his shirt said, but midway through my delicious omelet I heard a tap at the window in front of Hodgson. I looked up to see Hodgson look up at the window, where six or seven teammates were giving him a hard time for his shirt. It was a white t-shirt with HARVARD written across the front in red letters.

Now out of his shirt and in Canucks workout gear, Hodgson was surrounded by people sporting Harvard shirts.

“See, everyone is wearing shirts!” he said to everyone and no one in particular.

Some of the athletes approached the Canucks and three girls inevitably asked the Sedins if they were twins. “Nah, second cousins,” laughed Daniel, before telling the truth. One girl looked over at Cory Schneider and I could see she was ready to announce triplets were in the house, but she thought better and walked away to begin a stretch routine that would put Gumby to shame.

One by one the Canucks made an appearance in the training facility before practice, each with that twinkle in his eye that he could do what they were doing, but better.

Who am I to say they couldn’t. I’m just glad they have that swagger.

On a side note: Congratulations to my parents, who can now officially say, without a word of a lie, that their son went to Harvard. No need to mention I was in and out in three hours.

Game day, Canucks vs. Bruins. Follow @CanucksGame, aka me, for all the action. I’ll touch base from Florida Sunday or Monday.