This seven year vet of the AHL life has yet to get a sniff at the big leagues. Now that might have something to do with the fact that he can’t fly, well not in the skies anyway. Casey Winter has been the Marlies’ team bus driver since they arrived in Toronto. Before that he spent 2 seasons driving for the Roadrunners and 1 season for the Bulldogs of Hamilton.
With the recent accident on the Massachusetts turnpike of the Albany River Rats team bus coming home in the wee hours of the morning from a game; I started to think more about our team and their safety. On a recent road trip I asked Casey if there was even an occasion where he had to say “no, we can’t go tonight, time to get a hotel room.” He said fortunately he has always been able to make it home. Last years’ trip home from Hershey was the closest time we ever had. An ice storm had just started to close in and Coach Gilbert told Casey to go as far as you can. They would call ahead that night all the way home and enquire about rooms ahead as they made their way back to Toronto. The storm got so bad that, had they stopped, the team would have been stranded for a couple of days.
So stealing a segment from TSN’s Michael Landsberg, I played NEXT QUESTION with Casey about life on the road with our boys.
Best restaurant on the road?
Dinosaur BBQ in both Rochester and Syracuse
Best hotel to stay in?
J.W. Marriott in Grand Rapids, then it would be the slow elevator at the Renaissance in Syracuse
Funniest prank pulled?
Filling a stick shaft half full of water then having someone check the lye by holding up to look up the shaft.
Loudest snorer on the bus?
Sliver the equipment manager of the Roadrunners.
Longest road trip driving?
That would be the western swing through the Midwest.
Favourite area to watch a game?
Sitting in the stands with the booster club on the road.
Cleveland, because the bus is loaded and unloaded under the arena, inside.
Has the coach ever asked for your expert opinion?
Only how soon will we arrive home.
Any player ever been sick on the bus?
No, not yet!
What was the worst injury you have ever seen in a hockey game?
A player from the Roadrunners (whose name I can’t remember at this time) got cut across the back of the calf on his leg.
Most memorable game?
Game seven against Syracuse last year.
Favourite player, as a player? As a person?
David Ling as a player, the whole team as a person.
Who’s the loudest person on the bus?
David Ling last year, Kris Newbury this year.
Casey’s final quote,
“The thing that bothers me the most when we are on the road is the people who drive with their high beams headlights on at night going down the Gardiner Expressway. If they are that blind, maybe they should stay at home at night.”