10:07am CST: After finishing some last minute legal work for a few clients that came up last minute, I’m finally on the road. I’d hoped that I’d been out the door a few hours earlier, seeing as how MapQuest estimated my travel time to be just over twelve hours. Unfortunately life doesn’t always go as planned, so I just have to suck it up.
7:46pm EST: I’m just crossing over the U.S./Canada border at Sault St. Marie, Ontario. Normally I’d have enough music on my iPod to get me through a long drive like this, but it was only a few weeks ago I had a sixteen-plus hour drive that followed an eleven hours in the air and five hours in airports, so I was a little sick of my collection. I was lucky enough to pick up the White Sox vs. Indians game on the radio, which stayed with me until about two hours from Sudbury.
10:56pm EST: I’m finally in Sudbury. I make a quick stop over to Kuchin’s room (he’d arrived just about an hour before me), but then it was time for bed.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
10:00am EST: After a quick run down at the fitness center, it’s down to the hotel restaurant with Kuch to meet with Wolves GM/President Blaine Smith, Head Coach Trent Cull, and Assistant Coach Jeff Beukeboom. Over breakfast, we discuss how the team is coming together, what the Wolves should expect from Kuchin, and what Kuchin can expect in Sudbury. I mentioned how getting Kuchin up to Sudbury seemed like such a long journey, and Jeff even recalled the first time I had phoned their office and mentioned how glad he was that he answered the phone. It definitely was a journey and it was such a relief to get there.
1:35pm EST: Kuchin and I head over to the rink for the team fitness “tests.” I use the word “test” hesitantly because it was more of a measured dry land training session than testing. While waiting for the boys to complete the battery of drills, I got a chance to meet some of the players and staff, and I was pulled aside by Randy Pascal of SudburySports.com for a brief interview regarding Kuchin, myself, my company, and how the process of getting Kuchin to Sudbury unfolded.
4:17pm EST: The guys finish up their workouts, and Kuch and I head over to Subway to pick up some food. We head back to the hotel to eat, and Kuchin crushes about 20 inches (or should I say 55.88 cm since I’m in Canada?) worth of sandwich. After dinner, we relax for a bit before Kuch heads back to his room for a nap while I get some work done in my room.
7:15pm EST: Jeff Beukeboom picks Kuchin and I up from the hotel so we can go meet his billet family for the season. He’s going to be staying with a single local guy who’s extremely sociable and obsessed with sports. After only a few minutes, I know I can feel comfortable with his living situation for the year.
8:30pm EST: Back over to the rink so Kuch can get a light skate in before the long day tomorrow. He hadn’t skated in a couple weeks, so we just wanted to get his legs loosened up to help avoid any potential injuries on Thursday.
10:15pm EST: After grabbing some more food, it’s time to get back to the hotel before the players’ 10:30pm curfew. I get a few more hours of work done in my room, and it’s lights out around 1:15am.
Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
8:00am EST: Kuchin needs his OHL physical before he can be cleared to skate, so I drive him just a few kilometers from the hotel where the team has set him up with an appointment.
9:17am EST: Back over to the rink to drop Kuchin off for his first scrimmage. I have some emails to send and calls to make, so I head back to the hotel for a bit.
11:00am EST: Grey vs. Blue scrimmage time. They’ve already paired Kuchin and John McFarland (the Florida Panther’s 2nd Round, 33rd overall, selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft). John was in desperate need of a good setup man for this year, and Kuchin was looking for someone to setup…seems like a match made in heaven, right? Well yeah, but that’s only on paper – no way you can tell whether or not two or more players will have on-ice chemistry until you seem them skate together. During their third shift, Kuchin drops a pass to McFarland, giving him a little space, and McFarland burries it. Definitely a good sign. The game ends up going into a shootout and Grey pulls out the W.
12:13pm EST: Grey has a practice immediately following the scrimmage, so we hang around the rink to watch.
1:10om EST: I grab a quick bite to eat back at the hotel and make a few calls before I need to get back to the rink for Kuchin’s 4:15pm scrimmage.
4:15pm EST: At the Grey vs. White scrimmage, things get off to a great start – Kuchin and McFarland tall a goal and assist each on their first two shifts, and you can tell they’re already looking for one another on the ice. In the second half, Kuchin gets hit into the boards pretty hard as he chips the puck deep in the offensive zone. Within seconds, McFarland is there to send a message – “don’t mess with my line mate.” Trust me – the message was received. Later in the frame, Kuchin sets up another goal and McFarland made a statement when he rifled a slap shot top shelf as time expired. It was too little, too late as Grey fell by a score of 6-4, but overall, things were looking very good.
5:13pm EST: After the scrimmage, I ran out to get some food for myself and met Kuchin back at my hotel room. We hung out for a few hours watching t.v. while I got a little work done researching some of the players in camp and pulling up some articles that had been posted earlier in the day.
8:47pm EST: Kuch heads back to his room to get a good night’s sleep and I head down to the gym to get a nice workout in. As I know I’ve mentioned before, I think it’s very important to keep yourself active – it’s one of the things in my life that keeps me balanced when work can become overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that when you spend your entire day watching high caliber athletes pushing their bodies to the limit, guilt tends to add a little motivation.
9:43pm EST: Back to my room to get a little work done. If you follow my status updates on Facebook and Twitter, you probably know that I spend a few hours hammering out the first half of this column. By 12:00am I’m completely wiped and I head to bed to get some much needed sleep.
Friday, September 3rd, 2010
7:30am EST: Time to wake up. I grabbed some breakfast from Tim Horton’s and headed over to the rink for Kuchin’s morning practice. The club still hasn’t told me whether or not Kuch will play in the annual Blue and White game, but I’m guessing I’ll get some answers at the rink.
10:00am EST: Team Grey will be facing off against Team White in a scrimmage. The club shifts the players around so they can get a better look at some of the “on the bubble” kids. Not surprisingly, Kuchin is told that he isn’t going to play in the scrimmage, so we head up to the stands to watch the game. During the match, I have a few discussions with some of the parents. I take note of a few of the kids that stand out – if the Wolves decide to not take them, there’s always the possibility that I can help them find a spot. Maybe a kid that falls through the cracks isn’t going to become a financially viable client, but helping players get in touch with agents/advisors that can help only makes the Wolves look that much better. And if I can help bolster a club’s reputation of how they do business, it’s only more likely they’ll be willing to help me out down the road. Remember – networking is adding value to others. By helping a player and a club at the same time, I’m really helping my career in the long run. Obviously you can’t spend all your time working for clients that won’t have any real financial return, but at this stage of my career I have to be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed.
12:13pm EST: After Jeff Beukeboom let’s us know that Kuch will be skating in that evening’s Blue and White game, Kuchin and I grab some lunch and head back to the hotel. After we relax for a bit, Kuchin heads back to the rink for a team meeting. With my college hockey buddies coming to Chicago for our annual OU Hockey Reunion Weekend, I know I’m not going to have much time to work the next few days so I sat down at my computer and recapped Thursday evening and Friday morning for my column.
4:45pm EST: Kuchin heads over to the rink before the Blue and White game, so I run down to the fitness center to squeeze in a quick 30-minute workout.
6:00pm EST: Blue and White Game. Walking into the Sudbury Arena, I’m very surprised by the fan turnout. I understood that the community really embraced the Wolves, but I still didn’t expect this many people to come out for an inter-squad scrimmage. The Wolves decided to shake the lines up a bit to see how different players can play with kids like Kuchin and McFarland, so unfortunately the boys don’t get to showcase the “instant chemistry” that the Sudbury Star had reported to the community in that morning‘s paper. Afterwards, I jokingly tell McFarland, “don’t worry…we’ll be sure to get Kuch back up with you.” McFarland laughs and responds, “you better…I need him!”
8:37pm EST: Waiting for Kuchin outside the locker room, I run into Randy, the guy Kuchin is living with this season. He had to work that night but was able to make it over to the rink in time to catch some of the third period. After Kuch comes out, we chat for a bit with some of the scouts and coaches and then we head out to get a bit to eat with Randy.
9:53pm EST: I’ve got a long day in the car Saturday, so Kuchin and I decide to head back to the hotel and relax before we get to sleep. I introduced him to “Man vs. Wild” and we have a few laughs before we head to bed early.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
7:30am EST: Off goes my alarm. I shower, finish packing, and drop Kuchin off at the rink for his morning practice on my way out of town.
8:07pm CST: I’m finally back in Chicago and it’s straight into the city to meet up with my college hockey buddies that are in town. While it’s been exhausting, it’s been a great couple days. And after getting a little teaser of the Kuchin/McFarland combo, I can’t wait until the Wolves’ season opener September 24th.