Early in the ’07-’08 season, San Jose Sharks head coach Ron Wilson used a three-day break between games against Calgary and Detroit to bond his players. Rather than heading back to Cali, the Sharks retreated to the Canadian Rockies, just south of Calgary, where their main teambuilding event had them on the ice, but not to skate. Instead, players, coaches and media officials divided into groups of four to compete in the sport of curling—sliding 40-pound stones down the ice toward a target. Think bocce ball on ice with brooms.
Although it’s been a Winter Olympic sport for 10 years, curling was new to most of the Sharks. But while stumbling through its rules and nuances, they found time to down large amounts of Poutine—a Canadian comfort food consisting of French fries topped with cheese and brown gravy. Mark Smith, Patrick Marleau, Curtis Brown and equipment manager Mike Aldrich—a.k.a. Team Saskatchewan—won the tourney, maybe because three of the four hail from that province. Coach Wilson was happy with the event, which served as a successful break and bonding session during the Sharks’ pursuit of the Stanley Cup.