| |Ryan Jones and his dad Tom. Like father, like son? Perhaps not in the moustache department.
It was interesting to see the group of 40,50 and maybe even 60 something aged men gathered together in LA and Phoenix this week as part of the Edmonton Oilers travel contingent. The fourth youngest team in the league wasn't scrapping it's youth movement and getting older. Instead, the Oilers were embarking on a father-son trip. An idea done elsewhere in the league but now adopted by the Oilers.
It was a simple set up for the dads who gathered in Edmonton for the Friday game against Phoenix and then hopped on the plane with their sons on Saturday. The first real glimpse into what their boys do and go through to be a player in the NHL. Upon arrival in Anaheim there was some quality father-son time before the sons headed out for dinner and a quiet finish to the night. The dads not so much, as they went and enjoyed a Saturday night in California while their boys were sound asleep.
Sunday was a game day and the dads took on the same routine as their sons..with no morning skate, because of a five o'clock local start time against Anaheim, they all got together and had a chance to enjoy a pre-game meal as one big group. From there, those that were playing went back for a nap while their their dads also took a little snooze or vacated the area for a walk or a little sight seeing.
For a couple of the tougher Oilers like Zack Stortini and Steve MacIntyre the bad news was they weren't going to play against the Ducks. The good news is it gave them a chance to spend more time together in the afternoon. Later off to the rink they went and they were all ushered into one luxury suite to enjoy the game together and to enjoy each others company. The main purpose of this trip is to hang out with their sons but it's also a great chance to hang out with the other dads.
The years have passed but it's just like their kids were kids again and their dads were dads disecting every play. The times have changed where millions or at least hundreds of thousands of dollars come into play and no longer is there a need to rush into the locker room after the game to help them take off their skates. Yet the premise stays the same. It doesn't matter how old they get and for that matter how rich they get they're still just boys, albeit bigger ones, playing a kids game.
Monday it was a round of golf in Phoenix. Tuesday another game day against the Coyotes and then back to Edmonton. For those who watched the Oilers-Ducks game on Sportsnet West it was neat to see the dads celebrating after every Edmonton goal. The rink was bigger and warmer but it was like turning back the clock to those days at the local arena for the 6am game and the hot cup of coffee to get you through the early start time.
I have two boys myself and I don't expect that I'll have an NHL father-son trip, but that doesn't matter. It would just be nice to see them grow up and be successful at their profession. It wouldn't be so bad to join them at work to see exactly what they do and what it takes to be good at it -- a proud moment for any dad to enjoy.
This was Edmonton's first ever father-son trip. From all the smiles and laughs that I saw out of the players and dads...this won't be the last.