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Family first

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – Michel Therrien’s troops had some very special passengers taking to the friendly skies right along with them en route to Western Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

Fathers, uncles, brothers and close friends accompanied the Canadiens on their one-game trek to Pittsburgh to mark the second edition of the Father & Son Road Trip, affording players and staff members alike the opportunity to share the experience of life on the road with some of the most important people in their lives.

Invited guests took in Tuesday morning's practice together in Brossard.

“It will be something new for my dad, just like it has been for me every day since I started playing in the NHL. He’s never been out on the road with me at any level, so I’m hoping we can pick up two points in Pittsburgh,” offered Mike Condon, whose father, Ted, will finally have a chance to see his son ply his trade in the NHL ranks for the first time at the CONSOL Energy Center on Wednesday night. “My dad was actually a major factor in my development at every level. He financed my schooling, paid for my goalie pads, and came to all the practices. He showed me what work ethic and determination can lead to. He taught me about giving everything you’ve got in everything you do. He’s really been a source of inspiration for me.”

It’s safe to say that feeling is mutual. The elder Condon, a sergeant in the Massachusetts State Police, has been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to spend some quality time with his son after he earned a spot with the Canadiens out of training camp back in early October. The news came as quite a shock to Mr. Condon, who has been on cloud nine ever since.

“Even if you had dreamt this, you wouldn’t have believed that this could happen. We’re just still pinching ourselves. He’s playing for the greatest team in the world – and winning. I just can’t believe it,” shared Mr. Condon, who has seen his son perform brilliantly in the absence of starter Carey Price, while going 6-0-1 and posting a sparkling 1.57 goals-against average since making his NHL debut back on October 11. “We all worked for each other [to make this possible]. His [older] brother, Zach, helped, too. It wasn’t easy, but that kind of helped him here mentally with the grind of going to a very difficult prep school academically, and going to Princeton University, which was a very, very difficult place to survive in. Then, the ECHL. We’re just very fortunate. Hard work pays off. It doesn’t always happen like this.”

Jerry Price knows a thing or two about that, watching his son steadily grow into the most dominant goaltender on the planet. Despite Price’s ongoing battle with a lower-body injury, the four-time All-Star accompanied the team to Pittsburgh on Tuesday along with his biggest fan.

Ted Condon addresses the media at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.

“I think this trip is great. It’s interesting. We have a lot of fun. We eat a lot. We get to know the other parents. We get to know the other young men on the team. But, we do have a lot fun,” explained Mr. Price, a retired adult education teacher, who used to fly Carey from their home in Anahim Lake, BC to Williams Lake, BC some 300 kilometres away three times a week for practice and games. “It’s really enlightening seeing what they go through, the travel, the schedule that they keep, the things they do to keep themselves fit while they’re on the road. We enjoy it.”

While the reigning Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy, William M. Jennings Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award winner won’t be between the pipes on Wednesday night, the elder Price clearly wouldn’t have missed this trip for the world. It’s just another opportunity to share in his son’s success and his incredible accomplishments over the last several years.

“I’m always proud of Carey’s career and how he’s developing, but I’m also very proud of the fact that he’s become a very good young man. He cares about people. He cares about the city that he plays in, the people here and his teammates. I’m very proud of how he handles himself,” praised Mr. Price, who also expanded upon why he believes Carey has come such a long way in his goaltending career to reach the pinnacle of his profession. “He’s had good coaching, starting with Roland Melanson and now with Stephane Waite. There are a lot of things that have to come together to get to this level and excel. Carey is just one of the guys who’s been blessed enough to have the athleticism, demeanor, confidence and good coaching to make it all come together. It’s a good combination of all things involved.”

Unlike Mr. Price – who took part in the team’s inaugural Father & Son Road Trip during the 2013-14 campaign – Raymond Pacioretty will be embarking on his first trip with Therrien’s contingent and his son, Max, this time around.

“My dad is going to join us in Pittsburgh. I’m really happy that he’ll be able to be there. The last time, he couldn’t come because of work. It will be cool to share this special moment together,” offered Pacioretty, who has eight goals and 14 points in 16 games so far this year. “This is an important trip for us. We have our second family in the dressing room. When you think about just how important your family is away from the rink, it just solidifies those ties at home even more. Michel and Marc [Bergevin] are family guys first. They stress the importance of family all the time in individual meetings and team meetings, too. That’s one of the ways for them to show it.”

Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

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