It’s a toasty 82 degrees today in Sunrise, Fla., the second-to-last stop on the Wild’s four-game road trip leading into the holiday break.
But the team went on quite the adventure to make it under the sun and palm trees of South Florida.
After a 6-4 win over the Senators Tuesday in Ottawa, the Wild headed to the airport to fly out that night. It cleared customs and was on the runway when the captain alerted the team of mechanical issues; one of the engines wouldn’t start.
The plane moved back to the gate, and a mechanic on site investigated. Ultimately, parts were needed to make the issue. But since they weren’t readily available, the team would have had to clear customs to get back into Canada and track down hotel rooms while waiting for the plane to get fixed.
“That just wasn’t an option,” said Andrew Heydt, the Wild’s director of team operations and player relations.
So the search for a new aircraft began.
Heydt and Delta Airlines located a plane the Cavaliers had used.
“Being in Canada, Delta only had regional jets,” Heydt said. “So it wasn’t a big enough aircraft for our team.”
After an hour-long flight from Cleveland to Ottawa, the plane touched down at 3:45 a.m. Wednesday and the team was in the air by 4:30. It arrived in Florida around 7:45.
“That wasn’t exactly normal, sitting there, especially when you’re not expecting it,” winger Jason Zucker. “It just kind of pops up on you.”
Amid all this, Heydt was staying in touch with the buses, equipment truck and hotel in Florida to adjust the arrival times. He also set up a breakfast for the team upon its arrival.
“Just like any other situation like that, it’s knowing who to call and when to call,” Heydt said. “It’s just kind of assessing the situation.”