Tales From The Road Through the Eyes of a Bobblehead

Throughout the Western Conference portion of the Islanders franchise-long, nine-game road trip, the Andrew Ladd Bobblehead moved from city-to-city in my giant work bag.

I did let him out for a few adventures along the way. My Hogan’s Highlights this week will be shared from the bobblehead’s perspective…

WELCOME TO DALLAS Y’ALL

We had a great flight to Dallas. We played some cards on the plane and ate some good food too. When we arrived in Texas, it was almost 80 degrees! It was nice to have a practice day at American Airlines Center before the game against the Stars. Also, I saw Dave Strader, the play-by-play voice of the Dallas Stars, prior to the game.

I know it’s been a rough year for Dave going through cancer treatment and I was happy to hear that he was able to call a few games on their homestand, including ours. The Stars even gave him a nice tribute after their win over the Lightning in his first game back.

As for the game, my big brother “The Real Andrew Ladd” scored one of five goals by the Isles. He kicked off a stretch of four consecutive goals scored by the team that helped the Isles take down Dallas, 5-4.

CHI-TOWN!

If you have never been to Chicago, you’re missing out. Great city. I did some exploring while the players were taking naps before the second game of the back-to-back. They have this sculpture at Millennium Park called The Bean. I think from the picture below, you can understand why people call it that.

But I did a little research and found out its official name is Cloud Gate. The artist, Anish Kapoor, made it with 168 stainless steel plates welded together. It measures 33 by 66 by 42 feet and has been here in Chicago for about 10 years.

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On my way back to the hotel, we stopped along the Chicago River. A few years ago, the Islanders were here right after the St. Patrick’s Day celebration and the river was dyed bright green! One quick picture and then off to United Center for the game!

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Thomas Greiss stood on his head against the Blackhawks, but Corey Crawford also had a great game. This one went to a shootout. The Isles lost, but hey, at least we picked up a point.

CALGARY WITHOUT THE STAMPEDE

I had two visits to Calgary on this road trip and I’m not going to lie, the game on Sunday did not go well. We will just skip the game part and fill you in on the crazy press box.

It’s scary up there! To get from one side to the other, you have to walk across the ice on what they call “the gondola.” I took a video so you can get a better feel for it.

Check out the view from the gondola at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

Now let’s move on to the fun part of my Calgary experience. “The Real Andrew Ladd” spent a lot of time here when he was playing juniors. The Calgary Hitmen even honored him by raising a banner to the rafters before their game on Wednesday. The whole Saddledome was cheering. Ladd’s family was there too!

I didn’t want to steal the spotlight, so I didn’t take any pictures. But here are some of the highlights from the ceremony.

EDMONTON

On this long trip, the team needed some down time. We had a day off in Edmonton and I went to the biggest mall in North America. The West Edmonton Mall has everything you could ever want!

Not only is the shopping fantastic, but I went to the water park and played mini golf. I even beat all of the MSG Networks crew in knock hockey at the arcade. Associate Director, Charlie Cucchiara put up a good fight, but I have more skills.

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After the morning skate on Tuesday, the really nice PR guy from the Oilers gave me a tour of their new arena. It’s fantastic! The Oilers dressing room is top notch. Also, their jumbotron is the biggest I’ve ever seen.

They were able to build Rogers Place in about two and a half years. The fans in Edmonton love it, and I heard good reviews from the players as well.

One of my favorite parts is the media interview room, where head coach Todd McLellan heads to after the games. One side has windows and fans can look in. The other side of the room has a display with all Oilers jerseys from the past and present.

Take a look at the impressive media interview room in the newly constructed Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The team played well against the Oilers and I was happy to see Josh Ho-Sang score his first NHL goal. The interview with Josh may have looked a little funny on TV. That’s because he had to take his skate off to get fixed and was trying to balance on one leg.

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Once again, my big brother “The Real Andrew Ladd” scored. He’s playing really well right now. The Isles beat the Oilers, 4-1, for their first win in Edmonton since 2003!

VANCOUVER ROCKS

Whenever you ask players about their favorite cities to visit on the road, Vancouver often comes up. That’s because it’s fantastic. Yeah, it rains almost every day, but the sushi is great and there are all kinds of adventures around the city.

On Wednesday after practice, I went out to Capilano Park to see the massive suspension bridge. It was a little scary walking across the long bridge, but worth the visit.

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We knew how big the game was against the Canucks. “The Real Andrew Ladd” is from the area and had lots of family and friends at the game. I’m sure it was a thrill for them to watch him win it for the Isles in overtime.

I know I was jumping up and down!

MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS 

Last stop on the road trip was St. Louis. Scott Mayfield grew up in St. Louis and was really hoping to play against the Blues. There was some confusion before morning skate if he was in or out, but Doug Weight told Scotty towards the end of skate that he would play in his hometown. I’ve never seen him smile so big.

The team didn’t get off to a great start, but after Shannon interviewed the Mayfield family, Scott and Josh Ho-Sang helped Brock Nelson score. The team tried to battle back in the third period but ended up losing, 4-3.

By the time the Isles landed in New York on Sunday morning, I had traveled more than 8,000 miles on this part of the road trip. My box is falling apart, but I still have my hockey stick, which is a small miracle. The Isles finished 5-3-1 on their nine-game trip and are just one point out of a playoff spot.

Tonight, Isles fans have a chance to take me home with them. It’s Andrew Ladd Bobblehead Night at Barclays Center. Get there early because the first 10,000 fans will get to take me home.

See you in Brooklyn!