One of the less compelling aspects of coaching a hockey team is determining when players have days off. Per the new CBA, players are to receive no fewer than four “recovery days” per month. These days off are mandatory, and days in which they travel but do not practice, or days in which they take part in community or public relations activities without practicing are not counted.
It was a topic that was raised on Tuesday when Darryl Sutter was asked why the team practiced on Sunday morning, roughly 12 hours after losing to the Nashville Predators, and then took a Monday recovery day before reconvening for practices on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Darryl Sutter, on four full days between games:
We had a conditioning skate [Sunday], which ne needed. We hadn’t had many practices in the last month. It was good for us. Yesterday was a day off. Today was technically back to work.
Sutter, on why the team practiced on Sunday:
We had days without practices in October. I sit with the players, and we do the schedule, not because ‘we played last night.’ We do the schedule because we’re going forward…We get four days in this one, and then you have four days at Christmas, and then you have, depending if you’re saving it for Sochi or not, how many days you have there. So this was the one time where we had four days. The players, when we sit with them…we needed an aerobic day, somewhere in there. They had preferred we’d do it Sunday, not Monday, so they can go Tuesday-Wednesday into the X-and-O’s. That’s why you do it like that…I could’ve done things Sunday too, but that’s not the way we decide. That wasn’t me deciding, or anything like that. That was sitting with the players because that’s the best way to do it.
Sutter, on how the team schedules practices and days off:
It had nothing to do if we had won six-nothing, or if we had lost six-nothing. It’s not ‘last night.’ It’s always about the next part of it. Otherwise, it just stays in that part. [Reporter: So next month will you have the four mandatory days off in addition to those [Christmas] days off?] December is three, and our schedule, because of the way it is, we travel on one of those days. Basically, it’s a travel day because we go to Nashville. The mandatory four days off was to appease all the players that wanted every day off that don’t play anymore that made one of those rules. [Reporter: It’s funny. Some of your guys – I asked them what they did in Nashville [during a previous day off], and they said they really did not like having a day off, but they had to. They said they wanted to keep doing stuff.] It’s not that complicated, quite honest. I mean, you get your schedule, which is a tough schedule. You get that, and in the summer you have three or four older players that once you get your schedule, you work with them on what time you want to leave, all the things like that. Then, the next part, because of that, you’re not always in big buildings. Meaning, when you’re on the road, I don’t want to practice in a rink where there’s bad ice, bad boards, too cold, [road apple] dressing rooms, I don’t want to go in those places, because there’s a chance somebody’s getting hurt or is going to show up the next day sore. I don’t want to do that. So if there’s a way of not doing that…that the players think is good, then that’s what we do. Practice isn’t a ‘beat the hell out of the [players].’ That’s not what it’s about. [Reporter: So were you in here yesterday breaking down a lot of video throughout the day?] No, you know what? You can do a lot after games, a lot logged in, so it’s not really breaking down. It’s just pulling it out. It’s pretty much there now with everything that you have. [Reporter: It’s not like you have to spool up the film the way they did it in the old days.] Eight track.