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Fort Nucks: Family first

...Nilsson returns to the Canucks, starts vs. Kings

by Derek Jory @NoJoryous / Canucks writer

The thought didn't even cross Anders Nilsson's mind.

When this four-game road trip began last Monday night, Nilsson wasn't with the Canucks. His fiancé Emelie was past her due date with the couple's baby and there was no way Nilsson was missing the delivery.  

Nope. No chance. Family first. Hockey can wait. 

It wasn't too long ago this wasn't the case. 

When John Garrett's wife delivered their daughter Krista, one of two Garrett girls, Garrett was on the road with the WHA's Minnesota Fighting Saints. They were in Arizona playing the Phoenix Roadrunners and the thought of telling his coach he couldn't travel with the team because his wife was due is still a laughable thought for Garrett. 

"That was not an excuse for missing a game," chuckled Garrett. "Krista is 42 now (pauses to do the math in his head) - yeah, she's 42, and she still rubs it in jokingly. I'll never live that one down." 

Garrett said things changed for the players, and missing the birth of a child became unheard of, when the NHLPA gained strength and players stood up for what they wanted.  

Thankfully nowadays there aren't any issues. 

Nilsson was there to welcome baby Loui into the world before joining the team in San Jose last weekend. He'll be back in Vancouver to fire up daddy duty Wednesday, although the Canucks are only back for four days before embarking on a six-game eastern road trip. 

Watch: Youtube Video

Baby Loui joining the family during the busiest month of the season isn't ideal, but at least Nilsson was there for the delivery. 

"It's all about timing," said Thomas Vanek, weighing in. "Ideally you try to have your kids in the summer, so you're there for the birth and to help as much as needed when it's hardest early on. But things don't always work out that way." 

Vanek welcomed twin boys on November 15, 2010, on a game day, ironically with the Canucks in Buffalo to face the Sabres. The schedule was hectic for the Sabres during that stretch, so Vanek and his wife decided on a schedule C-section. He missed morning skate, that's it. 

"I remember calling Lindy Ruff to tell him we had the kids and everything was okay," said Vanek. "He said: 'ok, see you at the game.' He was old school." 

Vanek said he wouldn't miss the birth of a child for a hockey game and that he's never heard of a player putting family second.  

"It's more important, you miss that and the kid might never let you live it down. Plus in that game against the Canucks, we won and I had two assists, one for each boy, running on no sleep. So it all worked out." 

Vanek left out the part where he was named the game's first star. 

Nilsson gets the start in goal tonight for the Canucks, who are coming off back-to-back losses. Hopefully a win for baby Loui is in the cards.

Maybe he'll even be named the game's first star.

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