What It's Like to Travel with the Winnipeg Jets
A behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to move an entire team during hockey season, from Chris Kreviazuk of the Winnipeg Jets.
Ever wonder about the logistics behind transporting an entire hockey team? It turns out it’s no small feat, with every flight being a race against time, jet lag and seizing muscles. We got the inside scoop from Chris Kreviazuk, who, as Coordinator of Team Services for the Winnipeg Jets, makes all those moving parts glide seamlessly together, week after week.
What’s something surprising about the reality of travelling for a game?
The breakneck schedule, I suppose. Whenever we fly, we’re almost always coming off the ice, whether it’s after practice or a game, so we’re always in go-go-go mode. On a typical day, we’ll go straight from the rink to our fixed-base operator, right up in the air, and within 10 minutes of landing we’re on our way to the game. The guys have to bring their luggage – and their passports, which I always remind them about by text – to practice.
What’s a fixed-base operator?
It’s an organization granted the right by the airport to operate aeronautical services. Ours is Fast Air in Winnipeg, and they treat us right – they grab our cars, park them for us and shuttle us to the main terminal. Then we go through Customs like everyone else. When we get back from a trip, they have our vehicles ready, running and warmed up for us, which is important in chilly Manitoba.
Equipment by the Numbers
2,104: The weight, in kilograms, of equipment that travels with the Winnipeg Jets
88: Total pieces of equipment
40(ish): Bags of personal luggage
22: Player bags
3: Specialized staff (1 equipment manager and 2 assistants)
2: Stick bags, filled to the brim
1: Sewing machine
1: Skate sharpener
How many people travel, including coaching staff and equipment managers?
About 45 people on a typical trip – 22 players, the rest staff.
Does everyone travel in the same class?
All flights except about three a year are on our charter service, with Air Canada Jetz. Eight teams share seven planes. They’re 58-seater planes with a special Business Class configuration. Because we share with other teams, occasionally it doesn’t make sense to use the service, so we’ll book a mainliner flight with 120 seats, where 12 seats are Business Class and the others are Economy.
Are there team exercises to help acclimatize the players to new time zones?
Yes, we try to acclimate the guys as much as possible. We try to keep them on as similar a schedule as possible day to day, in terms of meals and everything – breakfast is 8 o’clock every morning, no matter what time zone we’re in. After a long flight, we do a team-wide warm-up or stretch in a hotel room to get everyone loosened up.
What’s the hardest thing about travelling to play?
For me, staying at least a couple days ahead of everything. I’m always talking to bus drivers and hotels to make sure everyone knows when to have everything ready when we come to town. We try to avoid hiccups by starting to organize in July, as soon as the NHL releases the schedule. For players, the physical grind is probably the toughest. Getting right off the ice and onto a plane, their legs can seize up pretty fast.
What’s the best thing about it?
When everything goes great on the ice, and then poof! – we’re on the plane and all went smoothly. That’s the absolute best. That and just being around the players – they keep me young. They’ve got a lighthearted approach, and they’re just a real good bunch of guys.
Photo: Lance Thomson/NHLI via Getty Images