I didn’t miss the hotels, what with their lack of plugs near the beds, overpriced gummy bears, impossible to program air flow systems and lack of TV channel guides.
I didn’t miss the travel, what with the planes and buses, unpack just to pack up, do I have everything/I definitely forgot something.
I didn’t miss the solitude, what with its quietness and talking to myself and constantly looking at polaroids of my loved ones back home.
I did miss the brotherhood though, and I didn’t even realize it.
As you know, I’ve worked hard the last five years to gain the trust of the players so that when I’m on the road, I’m just one of the guys. If they’re comfortable with me, I figured, include me or ignore me, either way I’m welcome.
Never was this more apparent to me than Wednesday when being a fly on the wall paid off big time.
It started during the photo above when we were waiting for the bus. Some having their morning coffee, others having a bite to eat, some just spitballing, like Zack Kassian and Chris Tanev. As I mentioned in a caption to a similar photo in Wednesday’s Behind the Lens, they were debating the finer points of alligators and crocodiles, which is deadlier and why. A philosophical educated discussion this was not, a riot of awesomness it was.
“I can’t believe what I’m hearing right now,” laughed Jason Garrison.
They agreed to disagree in the end, with Tanev defending crocodiles and their death roll because “it would spin you and hurt you and mess you up,” while Kassian stood behind alligators and something about them using rocks wisely.
Either way, it was Harry and Lloyd funny, no different than you and a friend really delving into a topic that does not deserve the time or energy.
Being back with the guys has reminded me how normal they are; men making a great living playing a kid’s game at the highest level possible. I’m glad they discuss animal battles and not stocks and bonds.
When the majority of the team hit the basketball court a few times later in the day, humility was on display with the Canucks being the furthest thing from an NBA team – with the exception of Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and Tanev, as you might have read yesterday.
But there they all were, air balls flying left and right with Jeff, Rory and I filming, photographing and documenting every clank of the rim. No egos here, just a men’s rec league practice. I’m fairly certain this wouldn’t be the case with too many other NHL teams, or teams from other leagues.
The Canucks have been more down than up of late in terms of collecting points, yet heads aren’t low, no one is sulking and when it’s time to go to work, they do just that. When it’s time to be fun, clearly they’re game, as was evident again before practice Wednesday when an undisclosed someone hid Dale Weise’s helmet. With 15 minutes until coach Tortorella would have started the skate and then likely started in on a helmetless Weise, everyone laughed and enjoyed the moment (except Weise of course) before the lid magically appeared in Kassian’s bag.
Teammates who laugh together, bond together, compete together and win together and I’ve never seen the Canucks as tight as they are at the moment. Maybe it’s the turbulent times, maybe it’s the frigid Ottawa weather, whatever, something special is going on with these guys.
Then there’s David Booth. This guy is pure gold when it comes to including me in on anything and everything, and from his priceless texting while stretching on an ab ball at the hotel gym Tuesday night, to him explaining to Kevin Bieksa why hunting is such a thrill, I could dedicate an entire separate blog to all things Boother.
I missed being on the road because I missed the guys and despite not being American in the least except that I love NFL football more than air, that’s what I’m thankful for this American Thanksgiving – that the team we cheer for and dedicate ourselves to is filled with down to earth great guys. They make me feel at home away from home and I appreciate that.
Oh and going back to things I didn’t miss, I didn’t miss spending countless hours on the internet watching hilarious videos I’m told I’m too mature for, but it sure is fun. Here’s two of my favourites from yesterday, and no, I’m not including the James Franco/Set Rogen video I wish I could go back in time and unsee.
P.S. - Sorry for the lame P.S.