The Anaheim Ducks took a charter flight to Helsinki, Finland on Saturday. The majority of th 135 Ducks fan on the Road Crew trip left Sunday on regular planes with no leg room or reclining space. It is safe to say that the players are a little bit better acclimated than the fans right now. That is probably a good thing, considering that they have a game on Tuesday evening against Jokerit.
The Ducks players were greeted with blue skies and a direct trip to Hartwall Areena for a light practice skate. The Road Crew was greeted with gray skies and drizzle and a direct trip to the hotel.
The players were treated to time on Teemu Selanne’s yacht to see some of Helsinki’s sights. The Road Crew? At least a few of us took a much needed nap.
Hopefully Selanne will pass along some of the same restaurant tips to the fans after practice on Wednesday as he did to his teammates. It is a little jarring to come 6,200 miles and see a McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Subway restaurant within a block of the hotel. That is clearly not Finnish cuisine.
Helsinki is beautiful with lots and lots of trees and the leaves are just beginning to turn color. It feels like autumn and definitely feels like hockey weather.
Traveling with the road crew was like traveling with family, as one man described it. At LAX, you knew who your traveling companions would be, as there was plenty of Ducks gear to be seen. About half of the Road Crew took the same flight, and the Ducks own Kent French was one of the group as well.
Interestingly, Brian Hayward and John Ahlers have stayed home in Anaheim, although they will be broadcasting the game. Secrets of television? They will be in front of a bank of TV monitors, just like the Buffalo Sabres announcers. Ahhh the joys of technology.
You can be sure there is excitement in the air here in anticipation of Selanne and the Ducks playing. This will truly be a once in a lifetime experience for not just the players, but the fans as well.
Up next? A litle sightseeing in the morning after a good night’s rest. Much much needed rest.