MONTREAL - When you've moved around as much as Byron Froese has since turning pro seven years ago, having someone to confide in and support you through thick and thin is priceless.
In Froese's case, that special person is his wife of nearly five years, Teil, whom he first got to know while in junior high school back home in Manitoba.
"She's always been there for me," said Froese, who married his long-time girlfriend on June 28, 2013, in Calgary, just one week after devastating flooding struck southern and central Alberta. "We've had a lot of ups and we've had a lot of downs - a lot more downs three or four years ago, more ups in the last few years - but it's been fun to do it together and have a partner in crime with that."
At just 26 years of age, Froese has already suited up for 10 professional teams - two in the ECHL, five in the AHL, and three in the NHL - and Teil has been his rock every step of the way, even putting her career as a registered nurse on hold at times when her husband was on the move.
"It's been a big sacrifice for her," admitted Froese on his better half, who wrapped up her studies at the University of Calgary a few months before the pair tied the knot in front of friends and family at Valley Ridge Golf Club. "She actually works in operating rooms. But when we were down in Cincinnati or anywhere in the States, she couldn't work. That kind of took a toll on her. What was great being in Toronto for the last few years was that she got to work at Toronto Western Hospital, one of the top hospitals in the country. She was involved in brain and spine surgeries there, and she had great colleagues. It was basically her dream job."
When Froese signed a two-year contract with the Canadiens last summer, Teil left her dream job behind to join him in Quebec. Unfortunately, she isn't fluent in French just yet, a necessary requirement to practice locally.
"In Quebec, they have different rules and procedures. She tried to get her license here, but you have to take a French exam, so it hasn't worked out. We even considered her making the trip to Ontario every day, but it's a long drive, so we decided to put it on hold and see what this year brings," he explained. "The way my career has been, I've been on two or three different teams a year, so you never know what can happen. I just know that it was a pretty tough day for her when she had to quit that job, but it shows the level of support she has for me."
The Winkler, MB native clearly fed off that tremendous support early on last fall when he quickly made a good impression on the Laval Rocket brass and was named the first captain in the club's history on November 3. Five days later, Froese was called up by the big club and has since played 32 games with the Habs, amassing a career-high eight assists and nine points.
Teil has been a source of strength for the veteran pivot during his hockey journey, and her willingness to take things as they come and roll with the punches, according to Froese, is simply off the charts.
"I remember getting called up to Toronto from Cincinnati and she packed up our whole apartment by herself in a U-Haul and drove it all the way up there on her own. Then, she packed everything up in Toronto herself when I was down in Syracuse last season - and she's done it all with a smile on her face," mentioned Froese. "She's everything you could ask for and more, and she definitely knows how to keep me positive. I put a lot of stress on her, but she's been unbelievable with it. More than anything, she just likes to see when I succeed and when I'm happy. I think those are the two things that she really cheers for."
And, Froese looks forward to returning the favor down the road.
"It's going to come full circle after hockey's done," he concluded.