MONTREAL - Father's Day will be extra special in the Petry household this year.
Just over a month ago, Jeff and his wife, Julie, welcomed their second child into the world. Barrett Hawkins Petry was born 11 days ahead of schedule, making a "fast and furious entrance at 3:44 a.m." on May 12, Julie wrote on her Instagram account, and checking in at 8 lbs., 8 oz., and 21.5 inches long.
So far, Barrett hasn't been much trouble at all. According to the 29-year-old defenseman, their newborn is fairly consistent, schedule-wise.
"He sleeps the majority of the day. At night, you get the three or four-hour windows of rest, but he's pretty relaxed. He doesn't get too fussy. He'll cry when he's hungry and then when you feed him, he's content," said Petry, who will spend the summer in his home state of Michigan. "It's a blessing that I was able to be there when he was born and spend time with him and see him grow. I'm just going to enjoy the next couple of months with the family."
Barrett's arrival officially made their 22-month-old son Boyd Jackson a big brother, and the couple has enjoyed watching both boys bond rather quickly.
"Boyd's gotten better and better with him every day. We brought him to the hospital to see Barrett when he was born and he wasn't sure what to do. He was playing with the balloon in the room instead," recalled Petry with a laugh. "Now, he's saying 'Baby' and [Barrett's nickname] 'Bear'. He gets up and runs over to look at him when he hears him crying. He's really been warming up to him. Seeing that interaction is really special. A year from now, you know they're going to be playing with each other and be best friends. Just thinking about that is neat."
The veteran rearguard doesn't want to look too far ahead, though. Times likes these are precious, of course, and move pretty fast.
Family friends, however, aren't necessarily taking things one step at a time quite as methodically as Jeff and Julie. Many have already suggested that Barrett has the early makings of an athlete-in-training.
"Everyone says that he's going to be a football player. They say, 'He's so big! He's going to be a linebacker or a tight end.' We have a little baseball tee for him, though, and we have little hockey sticks around. We pick them up every once in a while. We'll see what happens," said Petry, who often jokes about Boyd's future athletic pursuits as well. "With Boyd, we say he's just going to be a big power centerman. He's very high energy. He only has one speed. He's always running."
With two youngsters to look after, it certainly doesn't hurt to have close family within driving distance. Jeff's parents Dan and Christine live nearby and are regular visitors to help out with their grandchildren.
"My parents live 15 minutes away. Any excuse they can use to get over here, they're here. It's nice that my mom and dad are so close that we can call them up, go out for dinner, and know that the kids are in good hands," said Petry, who is hoping to pencil in a family outing to Comerica Park for a Detroit Tigers game before returning to Montreal. "We've been saying that's something we'd like to do together. Maybe we'll get a suite so we don't have to worry about headphones for Barrett. That'll be fun."
As will having the newest member of the Petry clan in attendance at the Bell Centre down the road.
"It's definitely something I'm excited about, having Barrett in the crowd with Julie and Boyd. It's already cool when you're skating around in warmups and you see Boyd on the glass. Anytime hockey comes on the screen now, he points to the TV and says, 'Dada!'. He's got his eyes locked on you the whole time," said Petry, on his cheering section growing by one. "I know when we get back to Montreal, we'll get Barrett a Canadiens jersey and all that merchandise he needs, just like we did with Boyd."
Until then, Petry will continue training at Barwis Methods - a renowned sports performance facility in Plymouth, MI - in preparation for the 2017-18 campaign. The biggest difference this summer, he claims, is in the post-workout reward.
"My favorite part of fatherhood is how special it makes you feel when you come home. Boyd's sitting there in the living room. He hears me coming through the door and he runs up yelling, 'Dada! Dada!', and just grabs onto your leg. Coming home to a greeting like that is special," said Petry. "Now, with Barrett, it's just getting better and better."