Long road trips present hockey teams with a great opportunity to bond and come together as a team. On Thursday night, the Penguins kicked off a 10-day Canadian road trip in Toronto, that will take the Pens west on their annual Western Canada swing of games against the Oilers, Flames, and Canucks.
What sets this year’s trip apart from others in the past is the four day break between the team’s game in Toronto on Thursday night until their next game on Tuesday evening in Edmonton. This four day day coupled with the rather expansive distance between Toronto and Edmonton gave the Penguins the prime opportunity for some early season bonding between the players.
Both Edmonton and Calgary, the sites of the next two games for the Penguins, are located in the Canadian province of Alberta. Also located in Alberta is Banff National Park, where the Penguins have decided to spend some down time before the schedule resumes on Tuesday.
After arriving in the famed national park on Saturday, the Penguins stepped away from the ice and enjoyed the beauty of what was around them. Based on the social media feeds of several Penguins players, Banff looks like the scene out of a fairytale.
The @penguins are exploring Banff pic.twitter.com/WtUGBUxdAs— Kristopher Letang (@Letang_58) October 21, 2018
Sundown...moon up in Banff! Good night. -DP pic.twitter.com/Flkh2jM7rs— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) October 21, 2018
Here’s a gallery of images taken from different players’ social feeds.
Based on these images Banff National Park looks like a place not from this world. It seems like the players are having a blast and enjoying this rare down time to bond as teammates while in a cold paradise.
Their stay in Banff will not be all rest and relaxation for the players though. On Sunday, the Penguins headed to Fenlands Banff Recreational Centre for a practice session. I guess it can’t be no work and all play even during their mini-vacation. Such a bummer for those guys.
The Fenlands Banff Recreational Centre is hosting today’s #Pens practice. pic.twitter.com/togDvjkRjJ— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 21, 2018
Always thinking about the community, the Penguins allowed a small amount of local children attend practice to watch their real life heroes in action.
Small group of kids have been invite to watch practice ! -DP pic.twitter.com/Co3n4IzQsq— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) October 21, 2018
Prior to practice, the Penguins had the opportunity to meet with some local fans for photos and autographs. One lucky fan was able to snap a few selfies with Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, and Patric Hornqvist along with collecting a few signatures along the way.
Today was awesome, thank you @penguins!!! Hope you have an awesome stay in town! pic.twitter.com/U0yj4SjqNC— Amie (@_amiiee) October 21, 2018
Following practice, head coach Mike Sullivan met with media and talked about the importance of the trip to Banff and how he believes it will help the team in the long run being able to travel and bond as teammates.
Coach Sullivan on the trip to Banff: “I think it’s a great opportunity for our guys to spend some time together. When they build relationships and become close off the ice, they play hard for each other on the ice.”— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 21, 2018
Players speak to media: https://t.co/T7j6G21jlo pic.twitter.com/9ReQIV3FB2
The Penguins will remain in Banff until Monday where they will hold a second practice before heading north to Edmonton before Tuesday’s game against the Oilers. This road trip will then move onward to Calgary on Thursday before finally wrapping up in Vancouver on Saturday night.