Minor leaguers will tell you that one of the toughest parts of the ECHL or AHL are the long bus trips. Traveling overnight, from game to game, night after night for six months can wear on a person both physically and mentally. One of the great rewards for all the hard work and patience through the minor leagues is that the travel accommodations are usually a little better in the NHL.
Well, and the money’s pretty good too.
In a scene that must have looked more like a Slap Shot trailer than an NHL reality, the New Jersey Devils were reminded of their roots on Thursday afternoon—and then some. The team was forced to walk to Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia after the team bus broke down on the way to the arena.
Devils coach Pete DeBoer had a sense of humor about the whole situation when asked by Tom Gulitti of the Fire and Ice blog:
“The bus broke down about two blocks away. The transmission went on it. We either had the option of waiting for a ride or walking and we chose to walk. So it was a nice warm-up for the game.
“A little team building. I felt like I was back in junior again.”
Luckily for the Devils, old-timers like Jason Arnott and Jaime Langenbrunner are no longer on the team.
Walking two blocks at the end of their short bus trip must have been the reason for their 2-1 loss in tonight’s game against the Flyers as well. Talk about a built in excuse. How would Pete DeBoer respond to one of his players if they dropped an excuse like, “I couldn’t finish in the 3rd period because I was exhausted from our walk this morning?” Perhaps the walk caused the Devils defense to lose track of Jaromir Jagr with 7 minutes left in the game when he snapped home the game-winning goal on the power play.
Good thing this fiasco happened during the preseason and not during the stretch run in March. What kind of team travels on a bus that can have a transmission go out? Most buses used by NHL teams look like they would cost more than a single-family home in the Hamptons. Who knew one of those monstrosities would ever have actual mechanical problems?
They say the preseason is all about learning experiences. In this case, we’ve learned that it’s all fun and games until you’re forced to walk two blocks in South Philly.