VOORHEES – Brian and Amanda Elliott are no strangers to long periods of forced separation.
They spent time away from each other while Amanda was assigned tactical level intelligence working with squadrons and aircrew in the Middle East for the U.S. Air Force a number of years back.
Brian, currently getting ready with the Flyers for the upcoming playoffs, knows he once again won’t be seeing his wife (and children) for a while because he’s going to be spending “life in a bubble’’ at the Toronto hub playing site.
He understands there were sacrifices to be made back in the day and there are new ones to be made now.
A couple years back, Brian said: “I saw it when she (Amanda) was on deployments and they don’t get a chance to write or Skype on a daily basis because they’re busy and time changes. You think about the sacrifices people have to make.’’
On Tuesday, the second day of Flyers’ training camp at the Skate Zone, Brian said he realizes the toughest part of being sequestered in Toronto means being away from Amanda and their two boys, Owen (3) and Eddie (1).
“I have a lot of family up there,’’ said Elliott, who hails from the Toronto suburb of Newmarket, Ont. “You know you’re going to be looking out your window, basically seeing their houses and you can’t even go see them.
“That’s going to be hard. Being away from family is one of the hardest things. . .to say good-bye, on a Facetime call and the first question you get asked is: ‘Are you coming home, daddy?’ They just don’t understand it. That’s been really hard for me personally but that’s kind of the sacrifice you have to make right now to be part of something special. We know it’s not going to last forever, so you have to battle through a little bit, appreciate what your family is doing at home and the sacrifices they make.
“If I can, (let me) say a thank you to my wife for taking care of the little ones while we’re gone.’’
Head coach Alain Vigneault doesn’t have small children like Elliott but he fully appreciates what his players are giving up for the good of the team.
“Being away from the people who are close to you is a challenge,’’ Vigneault said. “That being said, it could be a month, it could three months. This will be a time when people remember for the rest of their lives.
“I don’t feel that anyone in our situation right now has any right to complain about anything. But we’re going to miss the people that are close to us, our families, our parents. We have an opportunity to compete for the Stanley Cup. We’ve got the best facilities and the best people taking care of us. And if you look at what’s going on in the world right now, people are losing their jobs, their businesses. . .we’re one of the lucky ones. Playing a sport we all love. I don’t expect to hear any complaining. It’s a little bit challenging being away from the ones we love but we get a chance to work and do what we do.’’
Derek Grant, brought in from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline in February, is getting himself mentally prepared for what promises to be a unique experience.
If nothing else, it might give him a chance to get to know his teammates a bit better.
“It’s a little different for me, I don’t have small children, I can’t imagine how tough that is,’’ he said. “It’s going to be a whole different experience and concept but I think without travel it’s going to give guys a chance to really rest up compared to maybe a normal playoffs.
“I think you have to look for those advantages when you can. Obviously, not being around your family for so long, it’s going to take a toll mentally, absolutely. You can’t say enough about everyone’s families back home and the sacrifices they have to make for us to be here to achieve our goal and get the (Stanley) Cup.’’