MONTREAL - Eight days before Ales Hemsky suffered a concussion in Anaheim that sidelined him indefinitely, his wife Julie took to social media to share some important family news.
On October 12, 2017, she proudly let her Twitter and Instagram followers know that she was expecting the couple's first child.
The Hemskys are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their baby boy in April. He will be born in Dallas, where the 34-year-old Czech forward spent the previous three seasons before signing with the Canadiens over the summer.
While the papa-to-be is brimming with excitement, he's feeling some jitters, too. That's only natural, of course, when you're about to become a first-time dad.
"It's just a new thing. It's a new chapter in your life. You're kind of closing one chapter and starting a new one," said Hemsky. "Taking care of a child is a lot of responsibility. It's kind of scary at the start. It's becoming more of a reality now than it was three months ago. It's kind of scary, but it's exciting at the same time."
To prepare himself for his new off-ice role, the Pardubice native has been checking in with some teammates who have youngsters themselves.
"I'm just getting ready the normal way, talking to the guys and asking them little questions," explained Hemsky, who can consult with any one of 10 dads in the Canadiens' locker room right now. "A lot of the guys here have kids, and I've spent a lot of time with guys who had kids on different teams. You watch and learn from what they do."
Julie, meanwhile, has been the real bookworm of the two, according to Hemsky, who, despite his nerves, is already quite confident in his parenting capabilities.
"Julie does the reading. She does everything," joked the 15-year NHL veteran. "I think I'll just be a natural."
No doubt Hemsky's folks will be a good judge of that when the couple brings their bundle of joy to the Czech Republic for a visit come the offseason.
"They've been waiting a little long. My older brother doesn't have kids yet, so this is the first grandchild," said Hemsky. "I think my mom is excited. Obviously, she didn't see me too much because I left when I was 16. She's going to be excited to be seeing me a little bit more and seeing her grandchild."
So, will the soon-to-be addition to the Hemsky clan eventually follow in his father's footsteps and choose hockey as a profession? That's entirely up to him.
"I can just imagine spending another 20 years in hockey rinks," cracked Hemsky. "I won't pressure my kids to do something. Obviously, I'd love it if he tried to play hockey, but if he doesn't, he doesn't. I'm just looking forward to the basics of being a dad and teaching him all the sports I did when I was young. We didn't just play hockey. We played tennis and soccer. We played everything. It's nice when you're 14 or 15 and you can play every sport with your friends. That's kind of where I'll go."
Currently, Hemsky is focused on working his way back into the lineup as soon as possible - with the prospect of becoming a dad pushing him - and his recovery - in the right direction.
"The last few years, I had a lot of injuries, a lot of struggles. It's a mental grind. This is one positive thing," said Hemsky. "It's good to know you have something good to look forward to."