John Walton, the radio voice of the Hershey Bears, standing and shivering with other media at an outdoor Hershey Bears’ practice yesterday morning, looked out upon the frigid proceedings and said, “This is good for the soul.” I couldn’t agree more. As reward for playing hooky from work and driving up to Hershey on Thursday, I had the privilege of interviewing Bears’ players as they exited the practice ice and soliciting their thoughts about the effects outdoor hockey has on each of their souls.
I learned that Andrew Gordon played shinny up in Nova Scotia with one Sidney Crosby (and yes, I asked Andrew if Sid took dives on the shinny sheet as well); that when temps dipped down to 30 below in Quebec, Mathieu Perreault simply added a fifth layer of clothing and kept skating — all day and night; and that Michal Neuvirth quite simply never played outdoors in his development as a player back home in the Czech Republic. I also learned on Thursday that I was a little less ready for spring than I thought.
“When winter came we were so happy because we could just go outside and play all day,” Perreault told me. Perreault and his teammates yesterday had to be fairly kicked off the outdoor sheet well after practice had ended.