- The Penguins, who have the NHL’s best road record through the season’s first month, are in the midst of a stretch where the team will spend 15 of 18 days on the road.
- During extended stretches away from home like this, the players enjoy spending all of their free time with their wives and children.
- Some players use the time on the road to take care of minute details so they can maximize family time once they return home.
You could forgive members of the Penguins if they aren’t sure which city they are in on Tuesday. For the record, it’s Dallas, where Pittsburgh will take on the Stars on Wednesday night in the second leg of four consecutive road games.
The Penguins began the stretch by visiting the Carolina Hurricanes last Saturday, and this trek will continue through the weekend with stops in Anaheim on Friday and Phoenix on Saturday. It’s all part of a stretch which has seen the Penguins play just once at CONSOL Energy Center since Oct. 18.
While the Penguins have had success during the National Hockey League’s opening month as road warriors – they have the league’s best record away from home at 4-1-1 – all of the travel the Penguins have put in recently is a reminder of all of the sacrifices the players must make in order to live their dream of playing in the NHL.
“It’s good for a team to get on the road, but it’s definitely tough on the wives and kids,” Arron Asham
said. “But that’s what we do and it’s all part of our profession.”
Yes, all of the travel is a huge part of the profession the players have chosen, but that still doesn’t make leaving their families during the eight- and five-day road swings the team has taken thus far any easier.
Which is why all of the players – especially the ones with wives and young children – make sure they take advantage of every free minute they get during stretches like the one the team is currently enjoying.
“It’s tough sometimes to juggle everything because you don’t want your kids to think everything is ‘go, go, go’ but you try to cram as much time as you can in,” said Mike Rupp, who has two sons, Mason and Max, and a daughter, Madeline. “Usually I screw up my wife’s schedule because I am trying to stay up really late with the kids. It is a lot of cramming.”
“I just like to spend time hanging out with my wife, Melissa,” Deryk Engelland
added. “We’ve spent a lot of time on the road here and during camp, so I like to get her out around Pittsburgh every day that I can so that we aren’t stuck in the hotel.”
Asham said he particularly enjoyed having an off-day on Sunday because it allowed him to spend the entire Halloween holiday with his son, Dexter.
The two began the day by sitting in bed watching cartoons before running around to different stores in search of a costume so Dexter could go trick-or-treating later that night.
“He ended up going as a chicken,” Asham said. “We only got to go to about four houses because there wasn’t a lot going on where we lived, but we really had a lot of fun.”
Now, after two days back home, the players must take to the road once again, where they will spend the next five days traveling to three cities in three time zones.
For veterans such as Rupp and Pascal Dupuis
, hitting the road means putting in just as much work away from the ice as they did during the limited time they spent at home, albeit for different reasons.
Dupuis’ wife, Carole-Lyne, is expecting the couple’s fourth child any day now, so before he was able to board the team flight for Dallas, he had to make sure he has a contingency plan ready in each city to return home if she heads into labor.
“For me, it’s a matter of making sure that I can get back on time if something happens,” Dupuis said. “That makes it difficult. This will be our fourth time doing this, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Luckily her mom is coming into town until Christmas to help us out as well.”
In Rupp’s case, he tries to use the down time on the road to knock out bills, paperwork and phone calls so that when he finally gets to head home later this weekend, he can have all his free time available for his family.
“I don’t do any bills or paperwork at home,” Rupp said. “I do that when I go on the road so I can just hang out and play. I also take care of phone calls on the road too. I tell people I’ll call them back when we go on the road so that I can focus on my kids when I’m at home.”