Even before I became an assistant with the Long Island Royals seven years ago, I always asked my son, Daniel, each year if he wanted me around the team. As long as he gave me the green light, I was OK going behind the bench. He liked me coaching and liked me on the bench, but he liked having another coach there, too, so I kind of helped out.
When I became the head coach three years ago, I had an opportunity to continue coaching Daniel, but I still asked him if he would prefer I wasn't behind the bench. I've always been very cautious because I try and put myself in someone else's shoes and never wanted (Daniel) to feel any pressure, although all boys want their dads to be proud. I wouldn't say much. My dad never said much to me and I don't say much -- the assistants usually say something to Daniel because he only hears dad's voice.
Thing is, he doesn't hear a coach's voice when I'm talking so I don't say much. In some cases, if you're not careful, it could be a lose-lose situation. Having Stevie (Steve Webb) there, and formerly Jack Greig, was great. They were the ones who would always speak to him and I kind of just stayed out of it, in an indirect way, when it came to speaking to the team. Hopefully that'll have an impact for him and some of the things I've learned. I'm excited about when he asks me, "Hey Dad, is Coach Webb going to be there?" What's exciting for me is he really wants to impress Coach Webb … I'm just his dad. You know what? I'll take that to the end. That puts a smile on my face, and I hope for him this is something he chooses to do and he loves to do. If he chooses to, and I can help in an indirect way, it's been fun. I ask him every year, do you want me to coach, because I can sit in the stands, but he likes me behind the bench.
I guess I see some similarities between what Daniel does on the ice and my teenage years on the ice. He works hard, sees the ice well and seems to be more of a playmaker. But he can score goals when he has to. He's a team player, like all the kids on this club. As a coach, you have to be real objective and I try to talk to the players just as a coach. I have the other coaches talk to Daniel, and it seems to have worked in a good way because right now I think all dads who have 15- and 16-year-olds … we're not too cool. I think we embarrass our kids sometimes because we try to say too much.
I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.
— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh