Perhaps Chris Stamkos’ gift arrived a little bit early this year.
On a Saturday night during the advent of spring, his son Steven potted his 50th goal marking the culmination of his son’s official arrival as a superstar on hockey’s largest stage, which also played host to a 4-3 shootout win helped along by his son’s game-deciding goal. The night certainly called for a celebratory occasion as fans and teammates alike hailed the accomplishment of their 20-year-old center, but even during his career’s defining moment, the league’s budding phenomenon couldn’t help but deflect praise to his father in the stands.
“It was special,” Stamkos said. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing to do in my career, and on a Saturday night with my dad in the crowd on home ice, it was pretty special. You’re always going to have some doubters who are out looking to defeat you and I think my parents did a pretty good job of keeping me level-headed and not letting it get to me.”
With Father’s Day approaching on Sunday, the elder Stamkos will be celebrated for his contributions in helping his son achieve success as much as the gift he received that signified years of sacrifice for his son on the night of April 10.
Fathers and hockey often go together much like a stick accompanies a puck. One is there to guide the other along, while its counterpart follows its own journey to success that is life’s equivalent of a puck caroming into the net for a goal. It is only fitting then that the game has produced some of the most renowned father-son tandems in all of sports, including pairs such as Bobby and Brett Hull, Scotty and Stan Bowman and Gordie and Mark Howe. Although notable, these NHL duos only serve as a small sample for the millions of hockey fans around the United States who will share their stories and passion for the game with their dads on Sunday.
Mike Lundin admitted he had no special plans reserved for Father’s Day except to join the family at his sister’s house in Minnesota for dinner, but his memories are quite the opposite.
“My dad was also my coach for a long time growing up in youth hockey and I remember after practice my brother and I would always want to stay out on the ice and play against each other,” Lundin said. “My dad always stayed late to watch us, and sometimes he would even play with us, but he made a lot of sacrifices to get me where I am today. Those days were probably some of my best hockey moments that also included my father.”
Lundin’s experience might not be unique when compared to his fellow teammates, or even other NHL stars. But the bond between father and son, along with the memories they produce, is enough to make one’s face appear flush as if basking in the glow of a red goal light.
This year, for the first time, it is likely that the cheeks of Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier could even take on a hue of crimson, as his role off the ice has been enhanced by a recent addition to his family.
“Father’s Day is going to be great for me,” Lecavalier said. “I’m going to be spending time with the whole family and I’m really looking forward to my first time being a dad. It is also a great time to show appreciation for my dad, who has done so much for me.”
“It’s a time to say thanks to your old man,” defenseman Matt Walker added. “My dad is one of my best friends and he’s had a lot of input in what I am today. I owe him a lot for all the sacrifices he made for me.”