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Coyotes and Kids: A Family Affair

Coyote dads shed light on family life, the effect of having children, and the impact it has on their careers

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

It's no different for a professional hockey player: family comes first.

That sentiment was underscored last Monday when goaltender Antti Raanta missed practice. He was at the hospital for the birth of his son, Lukas, who joined his big sister Evelyn, age three, on the expanding Raanta Rug Rat squad.

Now, for starters, there's no doubt about it: the moms carry the brunt of the labor, literally and figuratively. But a new baby has its effect on the dads, too.

Sleep becomes more of a treasure.

Said Raanta of his wife, Anna, on whom he bestows "Rockstar" status:

"My wife is doing the hard part, she's feeding the baby, so I just have to take care of Evelyn. When I give her a lot of candy, everything's fine."

Evelyn was born when Raanta was in his final year with the New York Rangers.

"Everything changes from having no kids to having even one kid," he said. "You come home from practice and you try to make up the time that you've been away from home. No longer when you get home are you just on the couch for the rest of the day, watching movies or playing video games."

Brad Richardson 's daughter, Lexi, was born in the summer of 2015, just before he joined the Coyotes.

Being a father "is a huge change," Richardson said. "You have a lot of responsibility. But it's a great thing. When I'm at home, I'm with her, so I don't do a whole lot with the guys. I focus on her, getting her to school and getting her to bed, doing all that stuff. I play a ton of hide-and-seek and all of the dad things you do."

Raanta agreed about the social change. "It's not much more just going and hanging out and doing something during the nighttime. It's pretty much you stay at home and play with the kids, and when they go to sleep, you might have a couple hours to spend with your wife to watch a movie. Most of the time you're already tired, so you just go to sleep and start focusing on the next day."

Alex Goligoski and his wife, Amanda, have two children -- Roman, his son, who's three and-a-half years old, and Mila, his daughter, who turns two in a week. Both were born as Coyotes.

"It's a lot different, there's definitely a lot less free time or time to kill on your hands when you bring kids into the picture," Goligoski said. "Less sleep, that's for sure. Time away from the rink is spent running around getting the kids to stuff, a lot of time at the park. It's all about the kids now."

Being away from home is another factor. The Coyotes leave Tuesday for a three-game, seven-day road trip through Western Canada.

Raanta's mother recently arrived from Finland. She'll be "the reinforcements," during the upcoming road trip.

And mom will lend her hands, but Raanta credits Anna for always keeping things locked down.

"She's the one who keeps everything going, and I'm away from home so often she pretty much has to plan the days ahead," he said. "Anna makes the schedule for the kids each day for going to the park or going to music class I have to give all the credit in the world to her."

Goligoski gets it, too. He's been a stay-at-home dad -- albeit for maybe only a day at a time.

"It's crazy busy," he said. "I know that because I've been at home with the kids on my own for a day -- and it's insane. I can't imagine doing it back to back days by myself."

"My wife does so much, especially on those long trips, and I'm sure it's just tedious for her with how crazy everything gets. It's tough not being there to help her out, and at the same time you miss the kids and they miss you, but we've got Facetime and all that to keep seeing them. Still, it's not easy."

Speaking of social media, Richardson says that daughter Lexi, age four, already is tech-savvy enough to keep in touch with him.

"She'll Facetime me every once in a while out of the blue," he says. "It's nice to see her face."

"It definitely gives you perspective," he added. "You have some tough days in the NHL, and it's always nice to see Lexi after games. If the team's playing poorly, it kind of puts you in a better mood. And if the team's doing well, it's just nice to share that with someone."

By the way, becoming a new dad, even minus maybe a bit of sleep, proved well for Raanta. He returned to the ice Saturday night and turned in a 25-save performance in a 5-2 win over the Sabres.

Welcome to the team, Lukas.

Lead Photo Credit: Raanta Family - Arizona Coyotes // Second Photo [Raanta NYR] Credit: Jared Silber - NHLI via Getty Images // Player & Kid Photo [Goligoski, Richardson] Credit: Norm Hall - NHLI via Getty Images // Footer Photo Credit: Raanta Family - Arizona Coyotes

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