WASHINGTON, D.C. - This Father’s Trip, as great as I thought it would be, turned out to be more special than I ever could have imagined.
It’s the little things.
Like seeing Rick Schwartz pump his fists in the air when Jaden scores, or watching Steven Backes high-five Bill Elliott after Brian makes a game-winning save in the shootout. It's the smiles, the camaraderie, the selfies on the team charter, the dads that stop to take a photo with Martin Brodeur - it’s all a sight to behold.
It sort of makes me think of my own dad back in St. Louis. A construction worker by trade, he never followed hockey when I was growing up. In fact, me shouting at the TV as I cheered on my favorite players and teams probably kept him up at night when he should have been sound asleep. His tomorrows always started a heck of a lot earlier than mine did.
No, he didn’t follow hockey. But he was there to fix anything that broke - an air conditioner, the ice maker, the driver’s side automatic door lock on my car - you name it and he fixes it.
Since I began working for the Blues in 2006, he’s picked up an interest in hockey, often calling to comment on his own observations about how the Blues are playing. After seeing the memories being made by the players and their dads on this trip, it has me wondering what it would be like if he was here in Washington, D.C. instead of watching back home in St. Louis.
Could he talk hockey or professional boat racing with Steve Ott’s dad, or follow the X's and O's in Ken Hitchcock's game plan?
But he could have a blast. He could tell a good story. He could enjoy a cold one while watching the game. He could high-five Kevin Shattenkirk’s dad after back-to-back shootout winners. Or fix the zamboni if it broke down.
Yep - he could do all that with the best of ‘em.
STORIES FROM THE TRIP
It would be impossible to cover the Father’s Trip from every angle - there are too many good stories to tell and not nearly enough time to tell them. If you haven’t seen them already, below are some great links to the stories we've shared so far.
Video: Backes and Oshie talk about the bonds with their dads
Feature: Father’s Trip is special for their sons, too
Photos: Images from the trip, including Saturday’s visit to the White House
As with any video or feature story, a lot of content ends up on the cutting room floor. Here are a few notes we haven’t shared yet.
David Backes said he and his dad share a lot of similarities, and then went into slightly graphic detail about them. “People say we look alike,” David said. “We’re both about 6-foot-3, have a good metabolism and string-bean stature. Even in the hotel room - you get ready for bed and you see the hair patches on his chest are just as gross as the ones that are on mine.”
Willard Reaves remembers when his son, Ryan, began playing in a youth hockey league where hitting was allowed. Willard says Ryan “bashed a kid really hard,” which led to that kid’s parents verbally abusing Willard in the stands. “I just looked at them and said - I’ve got nothing to do with that,” he recalled.
Willard has attended three games this season, and Ryan has scored a goal in all three (Nov. 23, Jan. 29 and Jan. 30). So, will dad be attending more games?
“I will be coming to a lot more,” Willard said. “Being semi-retired, I’ll make it my mission to come to more games just to watch him play.”
Carl Gunnarsson’s dad, Bjorn, said he watches nearly all of his son’s games live while living in Sweden - even if that means staying up until 4 or 5 a.m. to do it. Bjorn made the trip to St. Louis to travel with the Blues this weekend.
T.J. Oshie trusts in that old “like father, like son” saying after seeing the dads on the trip this weekend. “I heard them in the locker room chirping each other and giving everyone a hard time,” he said. “They’ve only been together a couple of days, but they’re already acting just like us.”
SUPER BOWL PREDICTIONS
The Blues will be flying home to St. Louis after today’s game in Washington D.C. With a little luck, everyone will be home in time to catch the second half.
So, who are the Blues rooting for - the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks?
In a random poll, it turns out they’re divided.
Barret Jackman: “The Pats will win. I think Tom Brady is one of the best quarterbacks ever and is going to get his fourth Super Bowl (ring). I’m saying 10-point win for the Pats.”
Ryan Reaves: “I’m going with Seattle. I don’t know what the difference (will be), but I just hate the Patriots. They are foes of my Raiders…I hate everything about them.”
Steve Ott: “I’m going to support local Windsor boy Luke Wilson, who plays for the Seahawks. Marshawn Lynch will be the difference. He’s going to go beast mode.”
Be on the lookout during the big game for a McBride & Sons Home commercial featuring Vladimir Tarasenko, Brett Hull and Kelly Chase. You can watch it right now by clicking here.
Puck drop for today’s game in the nation’s capital is noon. NBC Sports Network and KMOX 1120 AM have the live coverage.
David Backes will pass Bob Plager on the team’s all-time games played list. Today will be David’s 616th regular season game.
Brian Elliott is expected to start in goal.
The Blues have points in a season-high 10 consecutive games (9-0-1).