Greetings from windy and warm St. John’s, Newfoundland!
After a travel day that (from first departure to last touch-down) took 13 hours and 35 minutes, it is nice to be settled in, adjusted to the time change, and ready for hockey again!
A brief rundown of commercial travel to St. John’s, for those who asked:
1.) The team bus departed the back lot of GIANT Center at a crisp 3:00 am hour yesterday morning, took a foggy ride along the PA Turnpike to Philadelphia, and once we entered the Air Canada terminal at Philadelphia International Airport, the clock struck 5:00.
2.) After we collected our boarding passes from Beaker, anyone who had a bag to check (it is “suggested” that we do NOT check a bag, but rather try to cram four days’ worth of clothes – dress clothes for the broadcaster who can’t be seen in sweats or a track suit on the road – into our carry-on) went to the counter and took care of that. Coach French then passed out a customs boarding declaration, which just required our name and citizenship.
3.) We made our way to security, where – even at 5:15 am - we had a 25-minute wait in line to go through the routine that has now become borderline ridiculous. I am finding that the things we are “supposed” to remove from our person changes from airport to airport. Philadelphia, for example, wanted EVERYTHING out of our pockets – including the large sum of meal money we get handed to us prior to every trip. St. John’s? Not so much. The guard actually said to me with a smile, in the friendliest tone I’ve ever heard from an airport security official, ”you don’t need to do that sir and you probably shouldn’t.” Hey Philly airport: HIRE SOME COURTEOUS PEOPLE WILL YOU? Also, I was told (sternly, and at 5:45 am, I don’t need to be spoken to that way) not to put my tablet PC and my laptop in the same container to pass it through x-ray. In St. John’s, the nice man put my digital camera, laptop, and tablet PC in the same container after I had painstakingly separated them. At least in both places, I was correct in taking my belt and shoes off before I even got to the front of the line. Philly security guy: no comment; St. John’s security guy: “thank you for being prompt and thoughtful.”
4.) Off to Canada customs, right out of security. The customs official took my passport and declaration card, asked what my purpose was in Canada and how long I’d be staying, to which I answered his questions. He asked if I was one of the players. I laughed. He asked if I played, period. I again laughed, but answered yes… then deferred to assistant coach Troy Mann. He let me pass. I joked about Troy because he likes to dish out the chop-busting on me any chance he gets. But he had the last laugh at the gate, because he, head coach Mark French and President/GM Doug Yingst were all conveniently upgraded to “executive class.” T.J. Syner and I sat in the 24th row, close enough to the bathroom for convenience yet too close for comfort.
5.) On to our gate for the 1 hour, 15 minute flight to Toronto. Smooth and easy – we touched down just after 8:00 am, landing in daylight after taking off in total darkness and some fog.
6.) After a 2-hour, 20-minute layover featuring extensive amounts of coffee and a bathroom stop, we boarded our connecting flight to Newfoundland.
7.) A three-hour flight took all of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Must have been a hell of a tailwind. Friendly Newfoundland-born bus driver took us from the airport to the hotel, where were arrived in the quietness of our rooms at 2:30 PM – which shifts 1 1/2 hours ahead to Newfoundland time 4:00 PM.
And now, it’s time to get to the real reason for writing this whole thing. First, I wanted to wake myself up… but I fear I may have put some of you to sleep. So to get thinking about some hockey tonight, peruse the game notes right here.
Don’t forget that with the time change, the puck drops from Mile One Centre at 6:00 PM Eastern Time. Tune into pre-game with your dinner or on your drive home at 5:20 PM.
Pics will be posted on my Facebook page and here later.