The Canada/Russia Super Series will take Team Canada on the road for a total of 21 days, touching down in eight cities, and for most players and staff, a total of between 10-13 flights over that period of time. On Sunday, Team Canada left Moscow for Ufa and the journey took another step towards the Super Series becoming reality.
After a brisk practice in Moscow, which included a team photo, the players and staff first said ‘Good Bye’ to Canada’s National Junior Team Head Coach Craig Hartsburg who has been with the team since Toronto on August 20th. Hartsburg will re-join the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL where he is the head coach, but not before he got a good look at 25 of the top candidates for the 2008 World Junior Championship team and working with Brent Sutter and his staff on preparing for both the Super Series and the World Juniors at Christmas.
Travel days tend to be hectic days for everyone, but especially for the two equipment managers, Robin McDonald and Serge LeBlanc, and the physiotherapist Kent Kobelka. The three of them are at the rink hours before the team and, in most cases, leave the rink hours after the team. The Moscow Spartak elite team that hosted Canada this week at the Sokolniki Arena did provide the team with great support, which made the task a little easier.
With the help of the players and the staff, all the equipment was quickly loaded into a truck at the arena after practice.
After lunch at the hotel, the team, along with Canadian media following team, loaded onto two buses. At the airport, all the personal luggage and hockey items were piled first at Gate 7, then re-piled at Gate 13. It is safe to say that no Team Canada member had ever flown on UT Air. There were questions whether the plane would be able to transport all of the team’s equipment to Ufa, but over an hour later, all of the pieces of luggage had been checked through and the team had received assurances that it would all make it onto the plane.
Team Canada members accounted for close to half the passengers on this flight. Once again, air conditioning was not quite up to par. While the plane seemed to be somewhat dated, the flight turned out to be eventless. Although, players and staff were a little perturbed by the landing, which included a sudden left turn only a few hundred feet above the ground.
Safely touched down, the team was loaded onto two buses once again and transfered to a hotel in downtown Ufa. The team will have a pre-game skate on Monday morning, prior to the first game of the Super Series. A brand new arena has been completed in Ufa, and will be sold out for the official opening game on Monday. Eight thousand strong are expected for the game: a perfect send-off for the Series. Less than 24 hours remain before the Super Series takes off.
SUNDAY’S TEAM CANADA DAILY SCHEDULE
8: 15 Breakfast
8:30 Bus to Arena
9:30 Team Picture
10:30 Media interviews
11:15 Bus to Hotel
11:30 Check out, packing, etc.
12:30 Bus to airport
13:30 Arrival at airport – Check-in at Gate 7
13:50 Check-in at Gate 13
14:45 Security check-in
15:00 Shuttle from Airport to plane
15:30 Flight to Ufa
19:30 Arrival in Ufa (accounting for two-hour time difference)
20:30 Bus to Hotel
22:00 Team Meeting