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Bob's Travel Log - St. John's

October 19, 2012

By Bob Rotruck

Welcome to Bob's Travel Log...or "blog" if you will.


It's been a fun trip so far to St. John's although it also came with a bit of a price in the form of what a royal pain it is to get here.

It's been well-documented elsewhere but in case you missed it, I'll run down the travel itinerary from this week:

Tuesday 7:00pm - Depart Glens Falls via bus.
Tuesday 10:00pm - Arrive Montreal airport. Check into hotel at airport. This also involved the players unloading all the hockey bags and equipment off the bus and into a storage room.
Wednesday 8:00am - Rise and shine and time to get moving. Long travel day ahead.
Wednesday 11:00am - Fly from Montreal to Halifax, Nova Scotia
Wednesday 2:00pm - Fly from Halifax to St. John's
Wednesday 4:30pm - Bus our way through traffic and finally make it to the hotel.

All-in-all, I don't think it was as tiring as it might have seemed. We knew what we had ahead of us and I think all of us have done worse or longer before (I'm looking at YOU 10-hour overnight bus-rides back from Norfolk...among other long journeys). You're always stopping and getting a chance to stretch your legs or get a bite at whatever airport. The Booster Juice (and smoothies) location at the Halifax airport was quite the popular stop for our guys. So was Tim Horton's of course. Any of our Canadian players are naturally going to miss Tim's and want to head over there. See below for pic of Zack FitzGerald's endorsement and strategic product-placement.

Good team dinner Thursday night at The Keg in St. John's. That's a famous Canadian steakhouse chain that probably most Americans have not heard of. But all our guys are familiar. I followed along with what Scott Munroe was ordering. He sounded like he knew what he was doing. And he didn't steer me wrong.

The Flyers pick up the tab for this type of event at the beginning of the season on the Phantoms' first long trip just to foster more team-bonding and give everyone a chance to settle down and unwind together like that. An incredibly classy move from a classy organization that they have been doing since before I was part of this team. I know the players appreciated the gesture and certainly enjoyed themselves and the food.

At one point towards the end of dinner when everybody was nice and full, "somebody" was gotten with a dollop of mashed potatoes on their shoe. The villian sneaks in down low, places the potatoes or ranch dressing or whatever, then when he gets back to his seat everybody starts clinking their glasses once they have confirmed their own shoes are clean. I had no idea what was happening (I thought somebody was going to give a toast...haha, I'm dumb). So I was told to look down at my shoe and, alas, I was the victim this time. I have no idea who got me....a couple of suspects....but they're just guesses and I'm fairly certain the code involves a "don't blab" policy. But I think I'm okay to spill the beans on my first fall from grace as the helpless victim here.

The weather here could not be better. We were told that it had been raining or dark and grey here pretty much every day for the last two months. Hardly the case for our arrival. Mild and temps in the 50's. Absolutely perfect.

Whole area is excited for hockey season. They are the home openers for the St. John's IceCaps who went 1-1-0 last weekend on their road-trip to Springfield (loss) and Connecticut (Win). St. John's sold out EVERY game last year. 6,700 fans. And these games against the Baby Flyers are the toughest tickets of all. Quite a few fans of Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier up here. And they get their chance to see them live way up here in the North Atlantic.

I was talking to Bryan Rogers who is the long-time voice of St. John's hockey and he was regaling me with stories of the wild and exciting Game 7 that the Adirondack Red Wings and St. John's Maple Leafs played in 1992 with Barry Melrose guiding the team to their fourth Calder Cup. He's seen a lot...including Eric Wellwood's older brother, Kyle, scoring five goals in one game for the St. John's Maple Leafs back in the day.

Now it's the first encounter for Adirondack against St. John's since 1999. But it's not the Red Wings vs. the Maple Leafs. Instead we have the Phantoms against the IceCaps. But there is still quite the feeling of nostalgia and old-school about this weekend with two previous AHL cities both getting their second-chance and new teams.

But this weekend is also about welcoming the new. Lots of Flyers and Phantoms fans way up here in St. John's. We're being told to look around the arena and that we WILL see some orange. Think we're kidding? Here's a small sampling of the tweets that we have received.

Nine Finger ?@JodyWarren1
@PhantomsHockey Tell the guys 2 have a look around, there will be some Flyers jerseys in stands, me included

~newfette~ ?@newfette
@PhantomsHockey I'm so excited to watch you guys play!!

Lori ?@SimplyLoriB
On the bright side, I get to see @RinaldoZac @Bschenn_10 and the @PhantomsHockey tomorrow in Newfoundland. :)

Rena Hutchings ?@Rena_44
@PhantomsHockey welcome to Newfoundland! See you Friday! #phantomphan #Flyersfan!

Jason Power ?@JasonPower94
@PhantomsHockey can't wait to see ya sat night in St johns #newfoundland #goflyers #gophantoms

Jessica Byrne ?@byrnejessica
This Flyers fan is pretty excited to see @Bschenn_10 and @PhantomsHockey on the rock this weekend pic.twitter.com/3BAIHVza


The journey in pictures:


First, to get this out of the way. Most common question I've heard this week: "Where's that?" Well, here it is. Way over at the tippy-tip-edge of Canada on an island is St. John's, Newfoundland right there with all the wind and current of the North Atlantic. Look how much further east we are than Maine. And how much more north we are than Toronto and Quebec City, etc.

Newfoundland Time Zone is 1.5 hours difference from New York. So their games at 7:30 pm in St. John's time will begin at 6:00 pm New York time.


Boarding the bus in Glens Falls and getting ready for the Tuesday evening deaprture to Montreal. That's Cal Heeter and Andrew Johnston chattinng on the right.


At the airport during our quick layover in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Zack FitzGerald loves his Tim Horton's coffee! And Tyler Brown looks snazzy in the specs.


After a loooong day of travel just to get here, the team went through a stretching and exercise routine in one fo the hotel's conference rooms. They could not get ice availability on Wednesday night, so stretching out the legs is the next-best thing. After that, everyone pulled up a chair for a video session too. I thought it was just a travel day, but they actually had a little more in store for the players and it wasn't quite over when we finally arrived in St. John's.


The souvenir shop at the Delta hotel in St. John's where we are staying proudly displays their IceCaps souvenirs.


Good morning from St. John's, Newfoundland! And a very good morning and day it was. One of the first sunny days they have had here in several weeks. I guess Mother Nature was simply waiting for the Phantoms to arrive. A great day on the North Atlantic.


Mile One Centre is so named because of the beginning of the Trans-Canada highway not far from here. You can't go any further east of St. John's without being in the water.


From high atop Mile One Centre as the Phantoms take the ice for practice. This is from my broadcast location of the game from the visitors' radio booth. That is also where I shot the preview video.


Another pic of Phantoms practice...this one from down on the bench.


Terry Murray diagrams the next practice-drill.


Then it's media-time. St. John's long-time broadcaster Bryan Rogers meets Sean Couturier...who had been here before along with Brayden Schenn when the Team Canada Under-18 national squad held their training-camp here for a month.


The evidence is clear...well, not quite...it's actually really blury. But that is mashed potato on my shoe, I promise. The villain will almost certainly never reveal himself.




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