On the Road with the Hurricanes, presented by Advance Auto Parts.
SHORT HILLS, N.J. - This Valentine's Day will be one to remember for the Carolina Hurricanes, who are hosting their first-ever Moms Trip in New Jersey.
Seventeen moms and one sister are along for the ride on this one-game road trip, the Hurricanes' first of two visits to New Jersey this season.
"It's going to be fantastic," head coach Bill Peters said. "It's very special. I'm sure they're going to be very appreciative. It's a nice gesture by the ownership. It's fun. It truly is fun. It's something you don't get to do all the time, so when you do get to do it, you better cherish it."
"They can see what life on the road is like. People in general outside of hockey don't really understand," Joakim Nordstrom said. "I know I talk to my friends a lot and tell them what it's like, but it's just one of those things that you kind of have to experience yourself. I think it's going to be a lot of fun."
"It's awesome. I think everybody in the room is pretty pumped about it and is excited," Justin Faulk said. "This is the first time in this organization doing it. Everyone is pretty excited to have the moms along. It should make for a pretty good trip."
This was supposed to be Inger Nordstrom's second Moms Trip. Chicago hosted one when Joakim was a member of that organization a few years ago, but he was assigned to the American Hockey League the night before the team was supposed to leave.
"She made a trip overseas for 24 hours and then had to go back home. She was rattled," he said, now with a reminiscent smile. "Now it's been building up to this trip. She's real excited and so am I."
And this time around, Nordstrom's roster spot with the big club is more secure.
"She's brought it up a couple of times, but luckily I'm still here," he said. "We were really looking forward to this trip."
Gail King's sweater sports a "C" on the front of it, mimicking her son's No. 27 red jersey. Does that make her the de facto "mom captain"?
"She has to share the time with Jordan's mom," Faulk said.
But it is a road game, after all.
"My bad. It's Jordan's mom. She gets to handle the duties on this trip," Faulk joked.
This trip is perhaps extra special for Faulk, who lost his father when he was just seven years old. His mom, he's said, has been the biggest influence on his career.
He kept news of the trip a well-guarded secret.
"I definitely know I told my mom well after they told us," Faulk said. "She was pretty excited, and I know she's having a good time so far already. She likes to come down here and visit anyway, and now that she gets to spend some time on the road, I know she's pretty happy."
Video: Justin Faulk: "It's crunch time"
"Wait, wait," Peters said on the ice. You would have thought the team misfired on a practice drill. No, this was different. "Helmets off," he instructed.
One-by-one the players had guided their moms and sister out onto the frozen sheet after practice. Jersey-wearing ladies were featured in the cluster of padded-up players on skates, a team photo op with the group before the Canes departed Raleigh.
"It should be fun. A lot of good memories," Peters said. "I think they're excited."
A team dinner is slated for Wednesday night in New Jersey. Thursday, while the players progress through their gameday routines (minus the morning skate), the ladies will descend upon Manhattan to see Phantom of the Opera and enjoy an afternoon of leisure in the city.
"I think she's excited for the whole thing," Faulk said. "They're going to a show tomorrow, so that will be pretty cool for them."
The moms will then settle into a suite at Prudential Center to watch the Hurricanes face off with the Devils, a pivotal Metropolitan Division match-up.
"They're going to play hard, right?" Peters said. "This is the person who brought you into the world, so you're going to play hard in front of them."
If the result is anything like what the moms presided over on Tuesday night, a 7-3 win over Los Angeles, they just might have to stick around for the stretch run.
"Absolutely," Nordstrom said. "It was a good start last night, and hopefully we can build on that moving forward."