Honestly it's probably one of the best schedules ever to be in Philly. We have three full days there, a few practices on the two off days, but other than that I get to go home, have some home-cooked meals, get to sleep in my own bed. I'll get to stay in my house for a few days and get to see my family. - Johnny Gaudreau
NEW YORK, NY -- The "Johnny Hockey" show has come east for what is essentially an extended roots tour for the Calgary Flames rookie.
Typically a homecoming for an NHL player is a quick visit, one night and two days, two nights if he's lucky, just enough time to see some friends, catch up with his family and go on his way.
Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau gets 11 days and nights.
"I've been waiting for it all season," Gaudreau said Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, where the Flames lost 1-0 to the New York Rangers in the first of a seven-game road trip.
On Monday, Gaudreau went out to dinner in New York City with former Boston College teammate Kevin Hayes, who scored the winning goal for the Rangers. They watched Boston College play Harvard in the Beanpot consolation game.
The Eagles won 3-2 in overtime. Gaudreau's brother, Matthew Gaudreau, scored for BC.
"That was a pretty exciting night," Gaudreau said.
Gaudreau stepped foot inside Madison Square Garden for the first time in his life on Tuesday and played the Rangers in front of his parents, Jane and Guy. He was a minus-1 with one shot on goal in 20:08 of ice time.
His parents are expected to stick around to watch him play the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday at Prudential Center, the first NHL game there for the former high school standout. The Flames also play the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Friday before heading to Philadelphia, which is where the real show is going to be.
Gaudreau is a native of Carneys Point Township, N.J., which is about 30 minutes from Wells Fargo Center, home of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flames don't play the Flyers until Tuesday, so Gaudreau will have all of Saturday, Sunday and Monday in his neighborhood. He plans to stay at his parents' house at least two nights.
"Honestly it's probably one of the best schedules ever to be in Philly," Gaudreau said. "We have three full days there, a few practices on the two off days, but other than that I get to go home, have some home-cooked meals, get to sleep in my own bed. I'll get to stay in my house for a few days and get to see my family."
Gaudreau said his parents bought a suite at Wells Fargo Center for the game and are giving tickets to friends, family members, and former teachers.
"It's the spotlight for him," Flames captain Mark Giordano said.
When the Flames are done in Philadelphia, the show goes to Boston, where he played collegiately for three years. He'll have an off day ther before playing the Boston Bruins on March 5.
"I've got about 15 [former] teammates that all want to come to the Boston game," Gaudreau said. "I have a lot of friends in Philly as well. Every city I just ask [for tickets] and give them out. This is going to be an expensive trip."
Gaudreau said his goal when he looked at the schedule in July was to be on the Flames by now in order to make this trip.
He started the season with them and has 15 goals and 44 points in 59 games. Gaudreau is second behind Filip Forsberg of the Nashville Predators in rookie scoring and is likely going to be a finalist for the Calder Trophy.
"He's coming back where many great things happened in his hockey career; it's going to be great," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "He's going to see lots of family, lots of friends. He has a chance to play NHL hockey, and right now he's around places where he achieved quite a bit, so it's going to be fun."
It's not happening without some good-natured ribbing from his teammates.
The Flames knew when they left Calgary that this was going to be the "Johnny Hockey Trip." They got a taste of it Tuesday, but it'll only pick up, particularly when they get to Philadelphia and Boston.
"We rib him a bit about it, but he's such a shy, humble guy, so honestly he's tough to rib on because you almost feel bad," Giordano said. "He's such a nice guy and never says a word to anyone, but I think he's coming around, getting more and more confident in the room with the guys. Obviously on the ice he's been great. It'll be nice to see him on this trip get some attention."
There will be plenty of that.
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Senior Writer