Road trips are pretty plane

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:42 AM ET

The t-shirt says it all: Eat, sleep, play hockey.

The perks of being in the NHL are great and also numerous, but life in the NHL isn't all glamour, especially on the road.

When the Flames are on a trip, there isn't a whole lot of time to go clubbing or party like a rock star.

As Calgary Flames forward Wayne Primeau said: "Get to a town, have dinner, maybe go see a movie, sleep, have breakfast, go to the rink, skate, go back to the hotel, have lunch, sleep, go to the rink, play a game, eat, go home.

"With the schedule as crammed as it is, you don't have time to go out. The road gives a chance for the guys with kids to actually go out and see a movie or relax."

For the Flames, a season worth of road trips can feel like a lifetime in the air -- they fly on a Airbus A320 Air Canada configured for charters with all business-class seats -- plus a couple of months worth of nights in hotels.

The most down time is up -- in the air.

On the plane, some players use the time to sleep, read or watch movies.

Forwards Daymond Langkow and Matthew Lombardi are the fixtures at the card table that features Hearts or Chicago -- "Mosser (David Moss) been doing well since he joined the game. We have to keep an eye on him," said Langkow.

A crew based around Jarome Iginla, Craig Conroy, Cory Sarich, Dustin Boyd, Adrian Aucoin and Robyn Regehr network computers and have spent the past few years battling for world dominance via Age of Empires.

"Nothing makes the flight go quicker than that game," said centre Craig Conroy.

"I don't even know what all the other guys do. I'm too busy."

Handling all the travel arrangements is team services manager Sean O'Brien.

He's on call 24/7, making sure buses are waiting for the moment they're needed, hotels are prepared for the mass arrival, food is hot and on hand, the plane is ready for takeoff as quickly as possible, with the flight manifest and passport information on hand immediately.

The duties don't end there, either.

He helps arrange extra hotel rooms for family members, ticket requests, handing out per diem money ($96 per day as required by the collective bargaining agreement, less an amount for days in which the team provides meals) and so on.

"I'm like a concierge," O'Brien said.

As for the players, there are two staples of life on the road:Food and entertainment.

With an 11 p.m. curfew on nights preceding games, dinner and a movie are about all they have time for on the first night of a road trip, and overnight stays after an away game are rare.

"By the time you get to a place, it's usually just before dinner. Then you go to a movie and then you come back and start getting ready for the game," said Flames blueliner Robyn Regehr.

The restaurants of choice are usually steak houses or places that serve Italian fare. Regehr is more apt to find unique places to dine, a byproduct of living on three different continents as a youngster.

"There are certain guys who don't like to go for any different food. Always the same thing, creatures of habit," Regehr said.

"Some of us who are more experimental with our food choices will go to different places."


Videos

Photos