For Cal Clutterbuck, it took raising two kids to really appreciate everything his own parents had done for him.
Because when you’re a kid playing travel hockey, shuttling around Southern Ontario from tournament to tournament, it’s tough to comprehend the sacrifices a lot of people are making for you. You’re the center of attention among parents, coaches, trainers, scouts, agents, etc.
Then you have kids and you become number two on your own depth chart.
“I think you don’t realize how much people are giving up for you when you’re that age,” Clutterbuck said. “I think having kids makes you realize that you’ve kind of been selfish for a long time and it’s time to break out of that mold.”
Clutterbuck has two girls, Harper, who is three and a half, and Willow, who is two. To Islanders fans, he’s the speedy, physical forward with an ever-changing mustache and a wicked wrist shot. But at home, he’s slowing down for school zones, sliding up slip-n-slides and watching cartoons with his girls.
“As someone who’s lived the life of a hockey player, you’re learning more about being unselfish, giving up your time and being accustomed to getting away from the rink and having a totally separate different life, something that is unrelated.”
Having kids puts things in perspective for Clutterbuck. Taking care of the family is priority number one, which translates to 100 percent dedication to his job.
“It gives you a pecking order as far as what’s important to you as a human being. Obviously hockey is high on that list, but that being said, being in our position, it’s our job to take care of our family – a lot of our wives are living in different countries, so they aren’t able to work. So we’re the breadwinner and it’s stressful when contracts are coming up and stuff like that, or you’re not playing very well. It’s easy to look at the future and be worried about taking care of them. So there’s a double-edge to that, but definitely establishes a pecking order of what’s important.”
Family time is also high on that list, though it’s not very consistent during the season. From 41 road games, to travel days and a busy practice/game schedule, time at home is at a premium.
“When you’re on the road it can be long, a lot of things go on without you and your wife is definitely carrying the bulk of the mail as far as taking care of the kids and day to day stuff,” Clutterbuck said. The benefit is that when you’re home… you do get long doses of being involved, but then you go away for a couple of weeks. That’s just the way it is.”
“Seeing their big smiles when you come home from a trip or something and they’re so excited to see you and they jump up to give you a hug and a kiss, tell you they love you, that’s the best part,” he said.
Clutterbuck sees his father, Tim, as a guide when it comes to parenting. He said he gets his work ethic from his dad and marvels now at how his dad was able to work as hard as he did and still make time to be at his games, practices and tournament.
“He’s a hard working guy almost to a fault. It’s one of those things as a son that you want live up to that standard,” Clutterbuck said. “He’s set a pretty good standard for me.”
Raising daughters is different than raising sons – mellower was the word – but now Clutterbuck is focusing on the type of girls he wants to raise.
“It’s a daunting task,” he said. “It’s a tough world to grow up in these days, honestly and it’s tough as a parent; it’s scary thinking about the influences that the kids are going to come under and all the things that go on. But you just want your kids to be caring, honest, and hardworking. I tell them to be somebody that you’d want to be friends with and someone you’d want in your life and be that person.”