It’s finally the moms’ turn.
After six Dads’ Trips under Penguins general manager Ray Shero, this year the team decided it was time to treat the moms – who have been waiting patiently for their opportunity to travel with their sons.
“I know my dad was a little disappointed, but I think he’s been spoiled pretty good the past few years,” grinned goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. “So my mom (France) is really excited.”
“My dad went on his first fathers’ trip two years ago and had a blast,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “I know my mom (Linda) was kind of hoping that maybe someday they would do it, and she was really surprised when I told her that it was going to happen this year. She’s super excited for it. She started giggling on the phone and hasn’t stopped smiling since she got here on Sunday.
“That’s good. She deserves it. She put in a lot of time, obviously, raising me and helping me with my career. That’s well-deserved and she’s going to have a good time.”
After taking their sons anywhere and everywhere to play hockey when they were younger, now that their boys are all grown up and doing this for a living the moms haven’t gotten to see that side of their lives anymore. But thanks to the organization, they're going to get the chance to experience it for the first time over these next few days.
The moms will follow their sons through every step of their two-game trip through Los Angeles (Thursday) and Phoenix (Saturday), starting by flying out with them from Pittsburgh on Wednesday and continuing at team meals, bus rides to and from the arena, practices and team meetings. The only time they won’t be with their kids is during the actual games, where they’ll watch from a suite.
“I don’t think I’ve been on a road trip just my mom (Trina) and I,” said captain Sidney Crosby, who famously dented his mother's clothes dryer whenever he missed the net shooting pucks in their basement growing up. “It’ll be nice to spend some time with her and catch up. I think the dads are a little shocked that they’re not getting a trip this year, but it’ll be nice to bring the moms. It’ll be fun to meet some new faces and have some fun on the trip.”
“(My mom Christiane) is really excited, obviously,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “Following me around in my childhood, playing in every little rink, now she has a chance to be part of a big trip at the NHL level. So it’s going to be fun for her.”
While more and more teams are starting to do Moms’ Trips instead of Dads’ Trips, this is the first one for all of the players in this locker room. So while they’re not quite sure what to expect, a couple of guys took a stab at how this will differ from the dads’ trips they’re so used to.
“(I think the moms will bring) probably better aroma and more style,” joked defenseman Rob Scuderi. “Those are probably the biggest two.”
Another thing, added Letang with a smile, is “more shopping. I don’t know. We’ll see.”
The moms do have a shopping excursion planned for Saturday in Phoenix before the Penguins play the Coyotes later that evening. But for the most part, their trip will be about getting to spend quality time with their sons – which is what Crosby said his mother is most looking forward to.
“I think she’s just more excited to spend some time with me,” he said. “When you leave home pretty early to play hockey and things like that, you don’t get a lot of time to spend with your family. I think it will be nice just to catch up and spend some time with her and have her get a chance to watch a couple games. She doesn’t get to a lot of games. I think all those things combined will be really nice.”
“It’ll be nice just to spend some quality time with (my mom Beverly) and let her know what we do for a living a little more in-depth, and let her know that she is a big part of it and where I am today,” agreed defenseman Paul Martin.
When talking about their moms today, all of the players referenced the sacrifices they made to help them get to where they are today – first and foremost all the early mornings and weekends driving them to and from the rink for practices, games, and tournaments.
Fleury, who welcomed his first daughter Estelle with wife Veronique last April, admitted that he’s now realizing firsthand the incredible amount of work that goes into being a parent, much less a hockey parent. So this trip is the perfect way for the players, coaches and staff to say thanks for everything their mothers have done and continue to do to help them get to where they are today.
“There’s so many games and so many moments throughout my career where I’ve been going through a tough stretch and I’ve called her and she’s been very supportive and helped me through it,” forward Taylor Pyatt said. “It’s just a way for us to say thanks to them for everything they’ve done over the years, and it’s going to be fun.”