A few weeks ago, I was imagining what the traditional end-of-camp getaway to Tremblant must be like, and how a team can get built there. Unfortunately for that little scenario, coach Jacques the Knife has decided the cushy life isn't for him or his troops. It seems there's a new order in Habsdom and it's going to start with hard work and a focus more on hockey than swanky golf courses. I imagine it might be something of a surprise to players who've lived the last three years under the "player's coach" style of Guy Carbonneau. Something like going from the Ritz to the YMCA hostel. Something like this:
The Scene: A charter greyhound bus, somewhere between Montreal and Toronto.
Andrei Kostitsyn: Vat ees dis deesel stink? I feel seeck. It is like Hemilton again. I steel have bad dreems from dat pleyce.
Roman Hamrlik: Yeah, why are we taking the bus anyway? It's not like last year.
Jacques Martin: (smiling thinly) I know. You'll find a lot of things won't be like last year. We're going to be hockey players. Not poker stars. Not VIPs. Not dancing queens. Hockey players.
Scott Gomez: (aside to Brian Gionta) Dancing queens? What the hell went on here last year, anyway?
Gionta: I know...I mean, you hear things, but...
Sergei Kostitsyn: (glancing around shiftily) I know nothing. Lots of drinking, dencing only sometimes. Menly dencing. Heh heh.
Martin: Well, drinking and dancing were last year. Ah...we're here. Okay guys! Let's go!
Bus shudders to a halt in a cloud of diesel fumes. Players and coaches, coughing a little, stagger stiff-legged off the coach.
Kirk Muller: (surveying extremely rustic log cabins) Um, Jacques, where are we, exactly? It's kind of...basic.
Martin: (rubbing hands briskly together) Yes, indeed. It's a chance for us all to get back to our roots; remember why we're all here. Ah...smell that brisk fall air.
Andrei Markov: (under his breath) I smell outhouse.
Martin: Yes, Andrei, this place comes with all the comforts of home.
Markov: Very much similar to Communist Russia, yes.
Mike Cammalleri: Hey, Marky, this place must remind you of home.
Markov: Cammo, I thought you were supposed to be funny. I just did that joke.
Cammalleri: Sorry, Marky. I didn't hear you over all these birds and crickets.
Carey Price: (jumping down from bus) Hey guys! This is just like home! Sergei, I've got an extra pair of cowboy boots if you need to change those loafers.
S.Kostitsyn: Thanks, Pricey. But I like the loafers. They are very light on my feet. I am light in my loafers.
Martin: Okay guys, here are your room assignments. You're six to a cabin, outhouses out the back and the mess is just down that path. (calls out names of groups)
Players break off in small groups and head out to their cabins. Fifteen minutes later:
Hal Gill: Holy crap, you guys. These beds are way too tiny!
Gionta: What are you talking about, Gilly? I've got tons of leg room here.
Ryan O'Byrne: (sings) La la, la la la la, la la la la la...
Gomez: Bite me, Burner. I've heard enough of the friggin' Smurf theme already. That guy from RDS hums it every time he comes into the room.
Tomas Plekanec: So, what's the point of this camping trip anyway? I miss my Seinfeld DVDs. Anybody have some chocolate? I'm starting to get a bit panicky.
Josh Gorges: What? Is the little girl scared of the woods?
Plekanec: I wouldn't talk, if I were you Gorgie. Everybody knows you can't sleep without Pricey in the room.
Gorges: Just keeping an eye on my goalie, that's all.
Plekanec: Hope it's just an eye.
A wrestling match and attempted smothering by pillow later...
Plekanec: Okay guys, what are we seriously doing here? I mean, we're pro hockey players, not boy scouts. What's Martin trying to prove?
Gionta: Lemaire used to do this kind of thing in Jersey, and you know what? We won the Cup.
Plekanec: What's that like?
Gomez: I can't tell you. It'd be like trying to explain what an orgasm is like to someone who's never had one before.
Plekanec: I didn't know what an orgasm was like before I had one, but I knew I wanted one.
Gionta: Well, I can tell you, you want a Cup too. Right, Gilly?
Gill: It's the greatest thing I've ever experienced.
O'Byrne: Ha ha! Gilly likes hockey better than sex.
(A group of cold eyes fix on O'Byrne)
Gomez: And your point is?
O'Byrne: Right. Okay, then. So I guess this trip means party time is over in Montreal?
Plekanec: Really? You think, Burner?
O'Byrne: (glancing around the cabin at his teammates' determined faces) I think this could be a good year.
The men in the group squint at each other in a Clint Eastwood-type way and solemnly nod. Yes. It WOULD be a good year. A crash of thunder suddenly breaks the quiet of the evening. Immediately, water begins to drip on Hal Gill's head.
Gill: Well, we'd at least better have a chance at the bloody Cup. This sucks.
Plekanec: But, in a good way, right?
Gionta: Shut up, Pleky, or I'll take you down, and you don't really want a guy who's 5'6" taking you down do you? Your rep is already weak.
Gomez: Let's hit the sheets guys. It's going to be a long season, and we need to be ready. If this is what it takes, I'm willing to put up with it.
Gill: Stop angling for the "C", Gomer. Nobody's buying it.
Gomez: Alright. Let's just shut up and get some sleep then. The more we sleep, the faster we're out of here.
O'Byrne: I feel funny.
Gill: That's just the absence of partying on a Saturday night, Burner. Go to sleep. You'll be okay tomorrow.
Plekanec: Hey guys, if we can survive this, we can survive anything.
Gionta: Let's hope you're still saying that in June.
Plekanec: There's hockey in June? Ha...just kidding. Okay guys. Have a good sleep. I think we're going to be okay.
Light flicks out on the first night at Teen Ranch. Light of hope flicks on in Habs fans everywhere.