Toronto, ON - Team Canada assembled in Toronto for less than 48 hours before embarking on a flight to Moscow, by way of Frankfurt. Canada’s preparations as a team officially for the Canada/Russia Super Series got started on Monday and Tuesday this week.
Twenty-five of Canada’s finest young hockey players arrived over the course of the day on Monday and were immediately subjected to a number of stations. Team Canada’s support staff took care of everything from equipment fitting, to distribution of apparel from one of Canada’s Premier Sponsors, BAUER NIKE Hockey, to interviews with TSN/ Rogers Sportsnet for the upcoming broadcasts and with the Canadian Hockey League. Players arrived from as far West as Comox Valley and as far east as Hammonds Plains, and the coaches’ plans are for them to become one united over the course of the next few days, in preparation of the daunting task at hand.
After dinner, the players and staff watched a documentary on the 1972 Summit Series. It was a reminder for staff and a wake-up call for the players. The intensity of the rivalry was not lost on anyone.
After a good night’s rest, the team took to the ice at the IceLand Mississauga for a brisk 90-minute skate. Head coach Brent Sutter set the tone right from the start. Sutter is making sure that his troops will be ready for what lies ahead.
After the practice, the team had lunch at the arena, where the players were joined by 1972 Team Canada member Ron Ellis. Ellis spoke to the group about how special these types of experiences are. He also reminded them that they may not be playing the same role they play on their club teams but that each and every role is important. In 1972, Ellis played on what was expected to be a checking line along with Bobby Clarke and Paul Henderson. And all of us remember how important that line was for Canada in 1972.
The team embarked on a 10:05 pm flight to Frankfurt on August 21st, and will arrive in Moscow on the 22nd in the early evening, Moscow time.
It looks like most of the team members were able to get a good amount of sleep on the eight-hour flight from Toronto to Frankfurt. Some watched the in-flight movie, others listened to music but eventually everyone got a little shut-eye. In Frankfurt, there wasn’t much time between flights. A couple staff members, Craig Hartsburg and Al Murray, and one player, Kyle Turris, waited until the last minute to have their seats confirmed. But once the plane left the ground, all team members were present and accounted for.
We arrived in Moscow a little before 7 p.m. local time. Security to get through passport control was very slow, so we didn’t get to check on our luggage for at least another thirty minutes. Everything, except for one personal bag, was accounted for. That, in itself, is great news with the team carrying over 30 bags of hockey equipment and supplies, as well as sticks and personal luggage for the all the players and staff.
We loaded equipment on a truck that headed immediately to the Sokolniki Arena along with equipment managers Robin McDonald and Serge LeBlanc and therapist Kent Kobelka. That is where the team will practise while in Moscow. That being said, a long evening awaited the training staff in getting the dressing room and arena ready for a first practice on Thursday morning.
The players and staff took buses to the hotel near downtown Moscow. Needless to say, after over 20 hours in planes and airports, everyone couldn’t wait for a shower and a good night sleep.
The work starts up again on Thursday with two practices scheduled.