Most NHL players have reasonable commutes to work during the hockey season. But their commutes back to their NHL cities at the end of summer can be somewhat arduous. Few players remain in their NHL cities over the summer; most return to their homes at various points around the globe. For European players, it’s a long and sometimes uncomfortable flight back to the States for the start of the season. Most of those flights are over in less than 10 hours, though. Lots of players coming from western Canada face drives twice as long as those flights, and those drives generally take more than one day on the road.
This fall, we’re taking a look at some of those commutes back to D.C. Today, it’s Eric Fehr’s 1,624-mile journey from his hometown of Winkler, Manitoba to the District. Fehr made the drive with his father, Frank.
“We spent about 25 hours on the road,” says Fehr. “We left from Winkler, Manitoba and drove down through the States past Minneapolis. Frank wanted to take the scenic route so we went down by Indianapolis and saw a little more of the countryside and came through West Virginia. It was a nice trip down. We went I think 15 or 16 hours the first day, made it to Indianapolis. We got a big chunk done the first day and we had a bit of an easier ride the second day.”
Hockey players are generally good eaters. They’re not much for fast food or junk food, but the road isn’t the best place to find healthy food options.
“That’s the hard part,” admits Fehr. “We packed a few snacks and you try to stop as few times as you can and eat as healthy as you can. But you’ve seen those truck stops; it’s not easy. I go with Subway or whatever they have there. It’s just two days; you get through it. Subway is generally the only thing you’ll find in a truck stop that’s okay, I think. That’s what we were looking for.”
Twenty-five hours is a long time to spend on the road, but it’s always better to have a companion along for the drive.
“We listened to a lot of country music,” says Fehr. “I tried to put on a few techno songs and Frank vetoed that as fast as he could. Other than that, there’s not a whole lot you can do. We just talked a little bit and got caught up. I don’t see him as much as I’d like to, so it’s great to spend a bunch of hours with him.”
Having a travel partner is best when that travel partner can also share in the driving responsibilities.
“We probably went three our four hours at a time,” notes Fehr, “grabbed a rest stop and filled up with gas and kept going. It’s pretty easy when you’re in the passenger seat. You can read the newspaper and check out your phone and stuff. It was pretty good, actually. The ride went by quicker than I thought it would.
“We’d try not to go too long in stretches. It gets boring when you’re driving too long or in the passenger seat so we’d just try to switch it up and keep guys alert. I know my dad was taking naps when I was driving but I wasn’t napping when he was driving. I wish I would have. In hindsight, I probably should have caught a few more ‘zees’ but it was good.”