By Jeff Vinnick
Nothing is worse than a hangover on Sunday morning, especially a sunny Sunday morning... Superbowl Sunday in fact. Fortunately, mine isn't from lingering too long in one of Calgary's many, many, cowboy-themed bars (hey, this ain't Texas partner, get your own identity).
No, I can trace my hangover straight back to the Saddledome. My hangover was caused by the painful sting of defeat in a high stakes hockey game.
I was lucky enough to witness a plethora of smiles on that east coast road trip, but it was tough going into the dressing room after Saturday's loss. The boys battled, but took a narrow 4-3 loss square on the chin. Pretty quiet, and lots of downcast eyes throughout the room.
The bright side of the NHL schedule is that you can put it behind you pretty quick. It's Sunday and it seems the smiles are already back. Nazzy is exceptionally full of vinegar. Maybe it's the sunny morning, or the smart money he laid down on Indy, but the barbs and jokes are flying around the hotel lobby.
The boys gather together before heading to the YMCA next to the hotel for a dryland workout headed up by trainer Roger Takahashi. The team splits into two groups - half rides bikes, the others lift weights.
The gym is still open to the public and everyone who rolled out of bed for a pre-Superbowl workout stand gobsmacked. All 40 year-old men stand in the corner watching with guts sucked in as elite athletes effortlessly whip through their workouts.
A couple young boys ask players for autographs and all oblige, while distant chants of 'Go Flames Go' erupt sporadically and echo through the gym. The guys laugh it off. It's all part of the game.
Everyone is gathering at a restaurant in downtown Calgary to watch the Superbowl spectacle, then it's back to hockey. The focus is already on the Oilers.
In the big picture, Tuesday's game is more important than Saturday's against the Flames. Building a little buffer between themselves and the bottom of the division is critical, and Edmonton is as good a place to start as any.