SOCHI, RUSSIA - One long journey ended Monday for Canada's men's hockey team.
Now, the most important one has begun.
Canada's defence of the gold medal it won on home soil four years ago started with a practice at Bolshoy Ice Dome, a workout pretty much designed to just keep the players up and help with jet lag after overnight journeys on chartered planes from Newark or Atlanta.
But it also signalled the start of the first key competition for the Canadians: the battle for positions, for minutes, for trust and for relevancy in a group of the best players in the world.
Team Canada coach Mike Babcock brought his book from the 2010 Vancouver Games -- he was showing it to associate coach Claude Julien on the way here -- which detailed his line combinations and observations about how they did or didn't work.
Finding chemistry will be the focus of Tuesday's first full practice.
"We're going to evaluate each and every day and we'll see how some people start in a better situation than others," Babcock said. "I brought my book from the last Olympics. Some guys started on the first line on right wing and other guys started on the bench and wound up being very important.
"It's a tournament. It's a competitive environment. We expect guys to compete for the right (to play)."
Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron started on the first line in Vancouver, but was the 13th forward in the gold medal game against the U.S. (though keep in mind Bergeron was nicked up, too).
Defenceman Brent Seabrook was to be Duncan Keith's partner on the blue-line and he wound up as the seventh defenceman in the final game.
Veteran San Jose Sharks defenceman Dan Boyle, who didn't make this team, wound up playing the second-most minutes in the final game of 2010.
In the first key development in Sochi, Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter got the chance to line up on the right side with Canadian captain Sidney Crosby on the de facto first line.
Babcock didn't like what he saw.
When asked why he had Carter in that spot, Babcock replied: "After watching him pass it back today, I didn't know for sure," said Babcock. "I said to all our guys, what happens as soon as you do 3-on-2s today, they're always passing to someone else and they pass it right into the corner. You can't pass it into the net, you've got to shoot it into the net.
"Carter shoots the puck when he gets it in L.A. We expect him to shoot the puck when he gets it here. If he's giving it back to Sid, he can't play with him."
Carter, like pretty much everyone, is impressed with Crosby.
"(Crosby's) really good. I knew that," said Carter. "You always have to be ready with him. He won't even be looking at you and the puck's coming to you. We didn't do a lot of line stuff, only a few things. I think for whoever plays with him, you've just got to kind of listen to him. He'll tell you where to go to be in the right spots. He's going to find you and when you get the chance you've got to get it to the net.
"I didn't think about it too much. It'll all kind of work itself out. I don't think you can go wrong with any lineup."
Tampa Bay Lightning winger Martin St. Louis was a late addition to Team Canada, replacing injured teammate Steven Stamkos. The answer by coach Mike Babcock to a question about where St. Louis fits spoke to what the next two days of practice will mean to how this team will look when it starts against Norway on Thursday.
"He's one of 14 forwards and he has to grab his piece," Babcock said. "It's the same for everybody. That's what we told everyone. They have got to find a way to grab their piece. We're going to watch what happens."
Monday's workout was an excuse to keep the players from going to bed (most have their own room in a three-man suite) and help with the adjustment to the time change. There were some line rushes and work on special teams.
"It was good to get out together," said centre Jonathan Toews. "There's been a lot of talk, a lot of story-lines, finally the team being made. I think the season has gone by pretty fast, but this feels like it's been a long time coming to finally get here. I think we're excited to be together as a team. We'll try and enjoy every moment and I think today was a great start. We've got to get off on the right foot, I guess."
So, as always, the next leg of the journey begins toward what is the only acceptable outcome for Canadians when it comes to hockey.
"We know how the expectations go," said Toews. "We're going to have to understand we're going to have some pretty tough challenges along the way ... Regardless of who we play in the first game, we have to think we're playing the U.S. or Russia every single game. That's the level to play at to get to the right level when the games really matter."
Added Babcock: "We've got good talent. Now, we have to become a good team."