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Training on the Ice that Hosted a Miracle

An ORDA employee’s son gets a rinkside view of the Flyers practicing in Lake Placid. Photograph courtesy of Aaron Hobson

What do the Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers have in common? All have come to the Adirondacks to train.

The Flyers drilled on the 1980 and USA rinks at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid last week, but ice is not the only thing the two-time Olympic site offers NHL teams. Captain Claude Giroux described the Lake Placid retreat as a chance for returning players to bond with new members of the squad, to spend time together in a quiet setting, away from distractions of home.

The Boston Bruins came to Lake Placid to regroup during a two-day break in a 2011 quarter-final series against the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins prevailed and went on to win the Stanley Cup. But team-building at the shrine of the 1980 Miracle on Ice has not been the charm for others.

The first pro team to train in the Adirondacks was apparently the New York Rangers, in the late 1940s, when there were only six teams in the league. The Rangers stayed in Saranac Lake, at Eagle’s Nest, what is now a large white apartment house at 110 Lake Street. The building had been remodeled by Alexis Thompson, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, to board the NFL team 1947–1949 for summer training at the Saranac Lake high school field just down the hill. After Thompson sold the Eagles, the New York Giants rented Eagle’s Nest for several summers.

The Philadelphia Flyers were 1–3 in the pre-season as they arrived in Lake Placid last week. They say what happens before the regular season doesn’t count. But tonight, when the Flyers play the New Jersey Devils, maybe we’ll see signs of whether time in the mountains helped gel their game. The NHL’s regular season opens October 1.

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