All the dads are pretty excited. It’s going to be a lot of fun again. Great to have them out and really this is rewarding for them. I think they’ve developed some relationships from last year with other dads too. It’s going to be a fun week. - Mark Giordano
CALGARY, AB -- Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano tries to call father Paul after every game. He’ll save the long distance charges on the next road trip, though.
Paul will be a little closer as he and other Flames fathers make the two-game trek through California on the annual dads trip.
“All the dads are pretty excited,” Giordano said. "It’s going to be a lot of fun again. Great to have them out and really this is rewarding for them. I think they’ve developed some relationships from last year with other dads too. It’s going to be a fun week.”
The Flames needn’t look far for any extra motivation.
Heading into games against the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings, Calgary finds themselves occupying the second of two wild-card spots in the Western Conference. Their 61 points sit two back of the Sharks and five up on Los Angeles.
But having dads around will certainly give his players a boost anyway, coach Bob Hartley admitted.
“As an organization there’s not a better way to say ‘thank you’ to those dads,” he said. “I told the players this morning, we understand our situation. You want to add motivation if we can add more motivation than our situation right now, just spend a few moments and think about your dad. Six, seven o’clock in the morning, cold rinks, Saturday morning, Sunday morning. Here you go tying skates. They followed every step. They were there for every second of their son’s career. Now we have a chance to spend time in an NHL environment. I think it’s great.”
Calgary split a two-game set on the dad’s trip a season ago, dropping a 5-2 decision against the Anaheim Ducks before rallying to beat the Kings 2-1 in November 2013.
A win in Los Angeles served as one of the highlights of the year, according to Matt Stajan.
“To share that with them and them being in the dressing room after to celebrate with us, it’s just a nice moment for everybody,” he said. “We’ve got to focus on the task and if we do our job and play well hopefully the fun part after will happen.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s all my dad talks about when I see him in the summer. It’s a great trip for everybody but especially the dads. They get a taste of what our lives are like playing in the NHL which is what we’ve always dreamed of.”
The trip this season will have a decidedly different tone to it.
In the first full season of a rebuild, the Flames were 8-12-4 heading into Anaheim. This year, Calgary enters the dad’s trip with a mark of 29-21-3 and a playoff spot in hand with 29 games remaining on the docket.
Dads won’t be a distraction with two big games upcoming, Stajan said.
“Obviously we know how big these games are and having our dads in attendance makes no difference,” he said. “I think if they’re not here they’re at home watching where they have a rewind button to re-watch our games. I think it’s fun having them around. I think when it’s time to be at the rink in practice and in games our focus is where it needs to be.
“In our free time we really enjoy the quality time you get with your dad you don’t always get when you’re older. It’s something special that when you’re living far away from your family you don’t really get to have when you get older.”
Fathers won’t run interference with four points on the line.
If anything, having the dads around will be a boost.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Giordano said. “Obviously two huge games for us, but we’ll use any motivation we can. Hopefully having the fathers there makes guys excited and maybe a little more pep in our step but not nervous.
“Hopefully it’s a good thing, it’s a positive thing.”