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Sleep deprivation a way of life for many Flames' dads

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

SAN JOSE, CA -- After a long day at Hollydell Ice Arena and spending a few hours coaching the Gloucester Catholic High hockey team, one would think Guy Gaudreau would have his fill of hockey.

That is not the case.

Like a lot of the Flames' fathers, when Calgary is playing, Johnny's dad settles in his home in New Jersey for the games, no matter how late they start.

"I'm fortunate to have a son who is [in the NHL] and it’s quite an experience to be around the pros and meeting the players you watch," he told "We’re from New Jersey, so we don’t get to too many games, so we see him on TV, we see you interviewing him, and it’s pretty cool ... it's really neat."

If he isn't settling in for a late-night Flames game, he and his wife Jane are making the long drive up to Boston to catch their youngest son, Matt, and the Boston College Eagles play.

It is a busy, hectic schedule -- one which involves sleep deprivation throughout the course of the season -- but he wouldn't change a thing.

"Well, sleep is overrated," he chuckled. "But, we do watch [John]. Live. My wife and I won't go to bed until we know he’s off the ice safe and sound.

"We don’t miss many games ... We have our other son in Boston College so we do miss him, because of that. It’s tough but a great experience. John loves it in Calgary and we’re happy he’s happy."

TJ Brodie's dad, Jay, is in the same boat as Guy Gaudreau but is a bit more accustomed to the late nights. He has been watching his son progress into one of the pillars of Calgary's blueline over the past four years from his home in Ontario.

"There's a lot of late nights for the games. We don't get a lot of sleep those nights -- after games, you've got to get up and go to work the next day."

Many of the players have a tough time sleeping after particular games, with the adrenaline still running high afterwards, and Brodie's father is in the same boat. Games in California can be particularly tough, with an additional hour tacked on to an already late night.

On top of being able to watch his son play live and experience a road trip with team, this trip has been beneficial for Brodie's sleeping patterns.

"It's kind of tough to go to sleep after some games. It's harder out here, with the time change -- you sleep way less with games out here.

"It's nice being here."

For Jan Backlund, keeping tabs on his son and the Flames means a lot of early mornings. He watches games online in his hometown of Västerås, Sweden, which is eight hours ahead of Calgary. Often times, games begin at 3:00 AM or 4:00 AM.

"Not a lot of sleep during the hockey season," he told "But I love it. I'm so proud of Mikael."

With that kind of schedule, it's no wonder Backlund's father opts to come to Calgary once or twice a season, spending 10-15 days in Alberta to catch a few of his son's games.

This year, he will make the lengthy flight to North America twice.

Prior to finding out about the dad's trip, he decided to head to New York at the end of February to catch a portion of the Flames lengthy Eastern Conference road swing.

He will head back to Sweden for a short stint before making the journey over to the East Coast but the back-and-forth pace doesn't seem to faze him at all.

"It's going to be great," he grinned.

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