Get The Most on The Left Coast
By Kevin Sylvester, Buffalo Sports Page
The cliche reared it’s head early this season for the Buffalo Sabres, ‘it’ll be great to get out west and bond as a team’. You hear it every year, the same way the Bills talk about self evaluation during the bye week. Those in the media gag when they hear it again. I’m sure some beat writers just pull out their notebooks from years past and fill in the new names on the team (plenty of them this year).
I can vouch for all the teams that have said it. It’s true. The west coast road trip is a bonding time for the team. It’s a long way from home, the sun is shining, and the vibe is different. California for sure. The SNL skit of The Californians is pretty accurate. It’s laid back out there, and playing hockey is not the biggest thing in the world. Players can walk around without being noticed, or if they are, they’re left alone. That matters. It takes the edge off, and this team could use that just a few games into the season without a win.
The time zone matters too. Being three hours behind Buffalo time is a great excuse to forget everything. Don’t want to take a call? Blame the time difference. Missed a financial Skype session with your agent? Time zone. It’s all good. And it will all be there when you get back.
The ocean is therapeutic. The sound of the waves crashing in, the salt in the air, and better sushi matters to these guys too. And they get to experience it all together.
If you think this sounds like nonsense, I’m hear to tell you it’s not. I’ve witnessed many of these things during my years working for the team. It was easy to see a lightened mood being around the team, on the bus and plane. The trips are longer than the short jaunts around the east coast. It created more time to relax, have conversations, and just be around each other.
Now, if they don’t pull out a win or two………