Did anyone else read about the Edmonton Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks sharing a flight during the WHL final and imagine a food fight breaking out at 35,000 feet? In the wake of an oftentimes-chippy Game 3 of the championship series that was marked/marred by two fights breaking out simultaneously, the Oregonian's John Canzano got a dandy column about the travel arrangements the Western league made for its two finalists whose cites are 1,545 km apart.
Understandably, the league has made a good investment by picking up the tab for the teams' international flights. The Winterhawks could end up crossing the Canada-U.S. border six times if the series goes the full seven games. For the Oil Kings, like with anyone else, flying internationally from Canada to the U.S. is not cheap. The WHL surely doesn't want the players to be sluggish from a 17-hour bus trip during its showcase event.
Hence sharing a plane. It's practical but it's also uncomfortable. Here's Canzano:
They took the same ride from Edmonton to Portland after the first two games of the series. Winterhawks media relations director Graham Kendrick reported after that uncomfortable flight: "Not a lot of socializing."
This was before the two teams starting trying to beat each other's brains in.
Heaven help that rig as it flies through the skies toward Edmonton. Let's hope, too, there are bathrooms in both cabins. Also, that the flight attendants have military training. Because Portland's Brad Ross and Edmonton's Jordan Peddle, who fought and were ejected for game misconduct on Sunday, will be aboard. As will be Winterhawks defenseman Joe Morrow, who threw his gloves down as the Ross-Peddle fight broke out, shed a helpless official and whipped Edmonton's Keegan Lowe as if they were fighting in the Rose Garden Arena's back alley. (Oregon Live)
The teams evidently buried their emotion during the shared trip, but it came out during Portland's 4-3 win on Sunday. Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal was upset that Winterhawks captain William Wrenn wasn't called for a cheap shot on Edmonton's Mitch Moroz as the Oil Kings celebrated after their third goal. Ultimately, though, the Oil Kings had more difficulty keeping focused, which is a big reason why they trail the best-of-7 series 2-1 heading into Tuesday's Game 4.
Portland's Brad Ross and Edmonton's Jordan Peddle also got ejected for fighting in the first period after another altercation had already began. It was quite the scene.
In a way, one could credit the WHL for being on top of the logistics. They came up with something that presumably saved the teams money. This should help the players avoiding getting burned out before the winner makes the long schlep east for the MasterCard Memorial Cup in Shawinigan, Que., which begins May 18. Don't worry, though: there's already a protocol for how the flight north to Edmonton for Game 5 will be handled.
The league has already informed Portland and Edmonton that there will be protocol for the shared plane ride, too. Edmonton will board first and take the back of the plane. Then, the league officials and media will board second and take the middle-plane seats. Then, Portland will board last and sit in the front section of the plane.
In other words, the people who should have no dog in the fight get to be the buffer zone.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.