If there’s one thing a strugging hockey team can be counted on, it’s a chorus of “we just need to get on a roadtrip so we can do some team bonding to get us all on the same page”. We’re not hockey players, so we don’t understand why “getting everyone on the same page” can’t be accomplished in, we don’t know… practice. We are, however, crack reporters. So we do know exactly what team bonding the Devils are up to on this long road trip.
Day One: The boys head over to San Jose’s hottest karaoke bar where Hedberg is encouraged to take the stage first. He cues up “Dancing Queen”, and proceeds to put on a worse performance than Roseanne Barr singing the National Anthem. The audience predictably and understandably boos lustily. Langer grows inexplicably upset; “He deserves better, people,” he shouts at the crowd. “Don’t boo him — he’s trying.” The crowd rolls its eyes. Langer then takes the mic and launches into “When A Man Loves A Woman”… only he doesn’t bother actually singing any of the words. The crowd boos more. The remaining players get on the same page by agreeing to leave the karaoke bar immediately, because all this booing is hurting their feelings.
Day Two: Marty insists that the team should engage in an activity he has been historically great at — bowling. The boys all eagerly line up to hop on the team bus, but John MacLean, without warning, informs Kovalchuk, who had no fewer than 15 perfect games under his belt during his tenure in Atlanta, that he’s not welcome on this particular trip. When the bus driver asks why Johnny Mac just made his star bowler stay at the hotel, Johnny just snarls, “He knows what he did.” The remaining players power through their bafflement and continue on to Anaheim’s finest laser bowling joint. They figure it’ll still be a great outing without Kovalchuk’s rolling prowess, because they still have Marty to knock down a ton of strikes. Except Marty suddenly appears to not know how to bowl anymore.
Day Three: With some time to kill in the morning before gametime, the team bus heads over to Disneyland, a trip that has historically been reliably cheap, satisfying Lou while still being fun for the players. Except things go horribly awry… now that most of the boys are tall enough to ride the rides. Lou spends the morning cursing the day he ever let Gionta and Rafalski leave.
Day Four: Patrik Elias leads the team on a walking tour of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hank Tallinder wonders later what everyone was talking about. He’s a little bit abashed (but not a lot) later when told he was supposed to be looking at the sidewalk, not the sky. After the Walk of Fame tour, Zach picks up a Star Homes map and insists the team bus make some celebrity stops. Sadly, Kovalchuk doesn’t get to go, because MacLean wordlessly orders him off the bus before they set out.
Day Five: Langer gleefully toasts the previous night’s Kovalchukless flight from LA to Vancouver with a champagne brunch in the team hotel. The boys spend the rest of the day lolling around the hotel spa, waiting for Kovalchuk’s Greyhound to arrive. They make a game of it, trying to guess why MacLean kicked him off the flight.
Day Six: In a repeat of a Vancouver-area team-bonding trip from two years ago (which, incidentally, did not lead to the team winning a Stanley Cup) (or even a playoff round), the team heads back out to a neighborhood curling rink. The team of Zach, Travis, Zubrus, and Taormina goes out to an early lead, and is looking to easily beat the team of Langer, Arnott, Egg Pelley, and Vasyunov (Kovalchuk is asked to leave the rink for wearing inappropriate curling slippers by a rink attendant who looks suspiciously like John MacLean). Langer then decides he will be replacing Zubrus on the other team, causing them to lose their lead and then the match. Taormina learns an important lesson about “playing the Devils way”. “ZZ Pops,” Langer gruffly says to the kid on his way out to a “curling winners only” celebration at a hot nightspot, “That’s what gets us where we’re going. All ZZ Pops.”
Day Seven: Travis requests that team revisit one of his favorite activities — cake baking. MacLean just goes to the nearest grocery store and buys a cake. Travis spends the rest of the day trying not to cry.