Syracuse Crunch players acclimate to living alone for 1st time, traveling in between cities

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Jim Sarosy has 20 years of stories about helping young players that come through the American Hockey League on their way to the NHL.And while some of the mistakes and issues the Syracuse Crunch Chief Operating Officer helps players deal with come as a result of young adults adjusting to life in a new country, many times it simply comes down to helping a teenager learn to live life on his own.“All his meat was still in the bags in the hall when you first walked in,” Sarosy said, while recalling a time he helped a Russian player adjust to Syracuse. “I was trying to tell him, ‘You have to refrigerate this stuff or it goes bad.’”The player was 18 years old and living on the other side of the planet from where he grew up. The Columbus Blue Jackets — the Crunch’s affiliate for a decade until 2010 — needed the trainer to go food shopping and for Sarosy to check up with him at the apartment. That’s the reality Sarosy and his staff face in their roles as they try help players get comfortable living on their own, often for the first time. For players traveling to new countries and new cities, it takes some assistance to get acclimated. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen a player arrives in Syracuse, he is given a room in the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Right now Charlie Dodero is staying there — Vladislav Namestnikov, who spent two and a half months in Tampa Bay, Florida in the fall before being sent back north, moved out last week.For the first two months, Namestnikov said he lived in a hotel in Tampa Bay. When that time was up, he was told by the Lightning to get an apartment.When the organization decides his situation is permanent enough to warrant getting an apartment, the Crunch front office will give him a letter that says he has five non-game days to find living arrangements.Namestnikov bought an apartment in Syracuse, and Sarosy said the Lightning would pay for one of his two that he’s leased — usually the one that’s more expensive. “They have to go through the process,” Sarosy said. “They have to learn at this level how to be a professional. For many of them it’s their first time getting an apartment.” It’s part of preparing a player to be able to handle the rigors of an NHL career. However, if the player gets sent to Tampa Bay, the team can handle paying the bills using money the player left it, which was the case for Nikita Nesterov who is currently with the Lightning.Namestnikov said the transition between locations hasn’t been a challenge because he’s already been a part of the Crunch last season and knows the players on both ends of the swap.Off the ice, however, the smallest things of day-to-day life can become a challenge.“Once in a blue moon, an agent will (take care of bills),” Sarosy said. “It’s not uncommon for a player to get all of their mail and then send it to their agent or other representation and they’ll take care of everything.“We don’t like that because we want the kids to become self-sufficient,” Sarosy added.Some players use the War Memorial Arena as their mailing address during training camp and the team finds itself still receiving letters long after the preseason is finished. Sarosy said he sends it along to the proper recipient along with a note that the player should change his address, which doesn’t always happen.Sending the actual player between Tampa Bay and Syracuse is just as complicated for the Crunch as it is for a person going on vacation — except without the planning.“We use all the tricks, get a couple codes here and there, but at the end of the day our first place to go is (travel website like everybody,” Sarosy said.A benefit of the Lightning’s affiliation with the Crunch is Syracuse’s proximity to the northeastern teams that Tampa Bay plays often within the Eastern Conference in cities including Buffalo, New York, Toronto and Philadelphia.Players usually get called up on short notice to replace others who are injured, which results in last-minute flight booking and notification.“You become an amateur meteorologist right away,” Sarosy said. “You have to watch out for the weather.”In Namestnikov’s case, he was given two hours of notice before he had to head for the airport. He had a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina — a commonly used stopover. If and when Namestnikov gets to make the return trip to Tampa Bay, Sarosy will be there to make his flight happen.“We need them and want them to have a pleasant experience here,” Sarosy said. “But at the same time, it’s professional hockey.” Comments Published on February 10, 2015 at 12:10 amlast_img

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