Monday, October 17, 2011

Western Canada Trip Provides Team-Building Opportunity for the Predators

On Sunday, the Nashville Predators loaded up the plane and made the 1,755-mile trip to Edmonton, Alberta, which is the first stop on their three-city visit to Western Canada.

The opportunity for the team to get out of town after a month of grueling preseason camp and nothing but short out and back, hectic road trips will provide a chance for the players to relax as a group away from the rink.

With so many young players, it will be the first time that this year's version of the Predators will have to bond and work toward coming together as a cohesive bunch.

It is a trip that the players look forward to that occurs twice a year. Several of the Predators are from Western Canada so it gives them a chance to play in front of their hometown friends.

Jerred Smithson especially likes going to Vancouver where it is 275 miles from his hometown of Vernon, B.C. "There's always a lot of people that like to make the trip up there. It's a costly one, buying tickets isn't cheap. It's always fun to play in front of family and friends."

Smithson describes what the Western swing is like; "It's always a fun trip. The atmospheres in the arena and the quality of hockey out there, those are three good teams that are waiting for us. We are going to have to pick up our game and bear down and do the little things right or it could be a long trip."

"We'll have a few days to be able to go to dinner and get to know some of the guys a little better than we do already."

Barry Trotz always looks forward to the trip out west. "It galvanizes you if you have a good trip. You are out there in Canada; you're sort of the center of attention when you come to town. It galvanizes the guys. You look at it as a big challenge."

The trip has also given Trotz a chance to put together team-building outings for the team. Last March, when the team was in the thick of the playoff push and needed a break, Trotz surprised the guys with an outing to a curling rink in Vancouver.

Mike Fisher, Blake Geoffrion, and Jon Blum were new to the team so it was a great way for them to mesh in to the squad. In January 2010, the team went curling in Calgary. and also appeared to have a blast.

When asked if he had anything planed on this trip he played his cards close to the vest. "Right now I don't have anything planned but that can change in short order. There's been a couple of things that we've talked about doing. All it takes is a call to get it done."

The way the trip was planned, the team will stay in Edmonton after the game tonight and practice at Rexall Place on Tuesday, and then fly to Vancouver where they will stay three nights.

Fans are looking forward to the team's first meeting with the Canucks since last year's second round playoff series but the players are taking them one game at a time.

Smithson was asked if he had thought about playing Vancouver again and he responded, "Not really, when we get to them I'm sure it will be on our minds, but we've got a good team in Edmonton ahead of them so our work right now is to get our game on track and worry about the Edmonton Oilers."

Puck drop in Edmonton will be tonight at 8:30 and can be seen on Fox Sports Tennessee.

More Later...

Buddyy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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