BRANDON, MB – The Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL) is the league’s most eastern team so with that being said comes long gruelling road trips by bus to Western Canada and the US. The Wheat Kings do this every fall for their annual west coast road trip.
Bussing a junior team over 5000 km takes a lot of planning and precision to make things run smoothly. As the old saying goes fail to plan, plan to fail.
Wheat Kings coach/GM Kelly McCrimmon said, “The thing with our team is structure and sticking to routine. Our game day routing will be the same. The only thing that may change is breakfast as it could be later one day than the other depending on what time the players get to bed.”
Preparations for the road swing begin usually the day the schedule is released and typically the team is working out last minute details the day before leaving.
Most of the planning and preparation is left to the assistant coach. Hotels and meals have to be booked, but other factors do come into play.
The team likes to stick to a game plan and with this the team often sees itself travelling at night. The players just convert their bus seats into bunks. This sometimes means making the odd special arrangements for middle of the night arrivals at hotels and at the arena to drop off equipment.
On off days, the coaches have to keep the players occupied so they hold practices, study sessions for players to keep with all their school work that has been assigned to them by the school, and team building activities.
The typical schedule includes
9:00 am: Wakeup.
9:30 am: Breakfast.
10:30 am: Bus to arena.
11:00 am: Game day skate then return to hotel.
1:15 pm: Meeting.
1:30 pm: Pre-game meal then back to hotel for pre-game nap.
4:15 pm: Wakeup call
4:45 pm: Bus to arena
5:30 pm: Meeting
7:00 pm: Game time
This happens to be the most expensive part of the season for the Wheat Kings as a trip like this usually runs in the neighbourhood of $35000 to $40000 by the time the team returns home.
So begins another season in Brandon.