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Stanley Cup Final

Long road to Stanley Cup Final for Frederick Gaudreau's parents

Taking marathon car trips to watch son play -- and score -- for Predators against Penguins

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / Senior Managing Editor

NASHVILLE -- Considering the long, unconventional route Nashville Predators center Frederick Gaudreau has taken to the Stanley Cup Final, it only made sense his parents would do the same.

Once the Predators reached the Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jean-Pierre Gaudreau and France Desrosiers decided they couldn't miss it.

So they got in their car and began the 11-hour ride from Bromont, Quebec, a quaint ski resort town about 50 miles east of Montreal, to Pittsburgh for Games 1 and 2. Then they drove another nine hours southwest to Nashville for Games 3 and 4. They capped it off with a 19-hour journey from Nashville back to Bromont, stopping only to eat and use the restroom.

In all, it was nearly 40 hours in the car, and every second of it was worth it.

"This doesn't happen every day," Desrosiers said Friday. "We didn't want to miss anything."

They got more than they bargained for.


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Having their youngest son play in the Final is one thing, but seeing Gaudreau score his first three goals in the NHL, including back-to-back winners in Games 3 and 4 and a tying goal in Game 1, the first time his parents ever watched him play in the NHL, was not exactly what Desrosiers expected to see.

In fact, simply watching Gaudreau take the ice would have been enough, finally realizing his dream despite going undrafted in junior and the NHL.

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"It was like seeing the last 20 years pass before your eyes in the span of a few seconds," Desrosiers said of watching her son's first shift in Game 1. "I can still see him as a little kid, and there he was in an arena with 20,000 people watching. The feelings that overcame us were immense. Then to go from that to watching him score his first goal, we had to pinch ourselves and ask ourselves if we actually realized what was going on here. I'm not sure we realize it yet, I think it's going to take a couple of weeks when we're sitting on the dock at our cottage and we ask ourselves, 'What just happened?' 

"We can't realize it now, but one thing's for sure, we're not surprised." 

No, Gaudreau has always had a single goal, and his parents watched as he worked hard to make it happen. Now he is getting his reward.

"He faced every obstacle imaginable," Desrosiers said. "A player who gets drafted has the red carpet rolled out for him. He gets every opportunity. Fred had to open every door himself, one after the other. He had to knock on every door and open it himself.

"Everything's going great now, he's making it, but he didn't get any gifts from anyone."

People in his hometown have noticed.

If Predators defenseman P.K. Subban has inspired people in Montreal to watch the Final, Gaudreau is the Subban of Bromont and the surrounding area. There is a Predators flag that flies outside Bromont City Hall, one Desrosiers and her husband brought back from Nashville for Mayor Pauline Quinlan. Another flies outside Gaudreau's old high school in nearby Granby.

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"Everyone is so proud to see someone from our region going so far," Desrosiers said. "His unique path to the NHL makes it so people can identify with him. He was never drafted and the majority of young players don't get drafted, and you can take that even further. In our everyday lives we're not always chosen so you have to work hard to make it. So I think a lot of young people can identify with what he's done, and I think that's great. It's a good source of motivation for all the kids."

Game 6 is here Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports), and Desrosiers is preparing for another trip. This time, however, there will be planes involved, with Desrosiers, her husband and their three other children, Guillaume, Alexandre and Carolanne, flying to Nashville on Sunday morning and back home on Tuesday.

If Gaudreau and the Predators are able to push the series to a Game 7 in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, the family plans to pack back into the car again.

"Pittsburgh's not that far, it's only 10 hours, so we figure we can leave early Wednesday and get there in time for the game," Desrosiers said. "How can we not go? They lost the only one we missed (6-0 in Game 5 on Thursday). Who knows if we'll be able to have this experience again in our lives? 

"We don't want to miss a thing."

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