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Moms gone Wild: Minnesota players have maternal presence on trip @NHLdotcom

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Jacques Lemaire is a demanding coach, usually unsatisfied unless his Minnesota Wild play a disciplined game.

Well, the boys better be on their best behavior for the next three games.

"No cards on the plane," left wing Derek Boogaard said, smiling.

The mothers of 17 Wild players proudly accompanied their sons as the group left Minnesota on Friday for three games on the West Coast. Last season, the team invited the fathers on a trip.

"She's very excited. Last year, when the dads got to go, she was very jealous right from the get-go," said right wing Mark Parrish of his mom, Barb.

The mothers gathered for photos at the arena in the morning before the plane left for Phoenix, where the Wild face the Coyotes on Saturday night. They'll stay with the team for three games in all, at Anaheim on Sunday and Los Angeles on Tuesday before departing.

Boogaard's mom, Joanne, will see sunny California for the first time - a faraway place from the Saskatchewan plains. The mothers get to take in some of the sights - the Hollywood hills, Rodeo Drive - and learn for themselves what travel in the NHL is like.

Last year, the dads were awfully impressed by the first-class seating on the charter flight, but Parrish said his father, Gene, was surprised by the lack of glitz and glamour the guys actually go through between games despite the high-end hotels and private airplanes.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the moms have been telling their sons they're equally eager and nervous. Mikko Koivu joked that his mother, Tuire, will probably cover her eyes when he's on the ice in case he gets caught up in a fight or cross-checked against the boards.

"But I bet it's going to be fun, and I'm kind of happy to give it to her, the experience, to see what it's all about here," Koivu said. "That's to appreciate what they did for us as we were younger. That's what they deserve."

Lemaire agreed. He was happy to oblige when general manager Doug Risebrough approached him with the idea before training camp.

"They're the ones that spend a lot of time with them, and they're the ones that feed them and show them how to walk and all that - and go to the arena most of the time," Lemaire said. "Because I know my wife did that, with the kids. I wasn't there at the arena. My wife did that, every morning. Six o'clock, she was there."

Parrish's mother, like most, played a big part in her son's development.

"Not in just waking up early and getting me to practice and helping me get dressed and tying on skate in freezing cold rinks," he said, "but my mom actually played goalie for me growing up. She was tired of me missing the net and not scoring, so she got between the pipes for me down in the basement. I was so scared to hit her, I had to score."

Niklas Backstrom, not Barb Parrish, will be the goalie when the Wild take the ice. But she'll be in the seats cheering, just like when they were young.

Backstrom's mother, Camilla, came from Finland - like Koivu's mom - to participate in the trip.

"It's a chance to pay back something to her," Backstrom said. "You never really get a chance to say thank you."

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