It’s a special day for any parent when their child accomplishes something they’ve been dreaming of for their entire lives. For Kathy and Bill de Haan that day was Thursday, and that accomplishment was their son Calvin making his National Hockey League debut.
When Kathy and Bill received word that Calvin would be called up from the Islanders American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, they knew they had to make the trip from Ontario to Long Island.
|Bill and Kathy de Haan were ready to make an eight hour drive to see their son's NHL debut. |
“My first thought when he called yesterday, mind you this was less than 24 hours ago, was thinking back to when he was four and five-years-old and never thinking this,” Bill said. “This is unreal.”
Calvin initially told his parents about his call-up through a text message that said, “Guess what?”
His dad knew instantly what that meant and immediately called Calvin to congratulate him. When Bill went to sleep on Wednesday night he was planning on making the eight-plus-hour drive from Carp, Ontario to Uniondale, New York. But to his surprise, Kathy had talked to the Islanders Manager of Hockey Operations, Joanne Holewa, who then managed to book the de Haan’s on a morning flight to the States.
The plan was set for Calvin’s parents to fly out of Ottawa and land in Newark, New Jersey around 12:30 p.m. However, the day was not as simple as the two had hoped, as several curveballs were thrown their way that jeopardized their arrival by puck drop shortly after 7 p.m.
Their initial flight was canceled due to heavy winds in Ottawa. Kathy, in constant communication with Holewa on Long Island, was unsure what their next move would be. At 10 a.m., Bill was ready to forget flying and hit the road, but Holewa booked the two on another flight to LaGuardia Airport with a stop in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that would get the de Haan’s to Nassau Coliseum with plenty of time to spare.
The winds in Ottawa didn’t slow down just yet, so their second flight was delayed for one hour. The delay jeopardized the de Haan’s making their connecting flight in Philadelphia, but luckily that was not the case. Their final flight to LaGuardia was again delayed another hour, landing the de Haan’s in New York at the heart of rush hour.
After leaving their house at 8 a.m., the de Haan’s made it to Nassau Coliseum just ahead of the 7 p.m. puck drop, just in time to watch their son take the ice in an NHL jersey for the first time.
“This is unbelievable, I’ve got chills just thinking about it,” Bill said of seeing Calvin in an Islanders uniform. de Haan finished the game with a plus-1 rating with two shots and two hits in 13:01.
For Bill and Kathy, the canceled and delayed flights, the hassle and the uncertainty, was all worth it. Dec. 15, 2011 is a night the two will never forget.
“How else can you describe this?” Bill said. “I would have driven 1,000 miles to be here. This is something you don’t want to miss.”