Hockey is a game that involves the whole family, particularly the parents. Youngsters may want to play the game, but without the support and guidance of their parents, they have little hope.
Today, many NHL teams hold an annual Fathers Trip, perhaps inspired by the Predators, who began the tradition their very first season.
Predators General Manager David Poile explained how it all got started - as a result of a conversation with former coach Barry Trotz.
The trips have featured a great deal of success, on and off the ice. As Poile noted, the expansion Predators swept their first trip in January of 1999 - and they didn't pick any "cupcakes" on the schedule.
The first game was in Buffalo, with the Predators going against one of the game's top goaltenders, Dominik Hasek. What happened there? They beat Hasek and the Sabres, 4-2. Keep in mind, that Sabres team went to the Stanley Cup Final later that season.
Before that game, Barry Trotz wanted some ideas on how to entertain the fathers. Someone mentioned that perhaps they might like to take in the "Canadian Ballet" across the border in Fort Erie, Ontario. A bus was chartered to take them there and got them to the game just in time. They caused a bit of a ruckus in the stands, but all was well as they moved on to New Jersey.
In New Jersey, they would face another eventual Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender in Martin Brodeur. Brodeur already had one Cup win (1995) on his resume and would add two others (2000 and 2003).
On a Saturday afternoon, the Devils built a 2-0 lead in the first period, but the Predators came back. They did so in dramatic fashion.
It was simply an unbelievable beginning to a great tradition.
There was another memorable sweep of a Fathers Trip in 2006, but it wasn't as easy as it sounds. It started on Nov. 29 in Philadelphia. Who would have figured it would be almost 75 degrees in the Northeast at that point in time?
Martin Erat got the game winner, helping out Chris Mason in goal that Wednesday night in Philadelphia, then it was on to St. Louis, for a Thursday meeting with the Blues.
That afternoon, an ice storm hit St. Louis, keeping many fans away - and arena workers as well. However, the game went on. Jordin Tootoo not only broke the tie in the third period, but also got into a fight with Eric Brewer, and Alex Radulov produced the eventual game-winner.
While that game was going on, air traffic into and out of St. Louis was shut down because of the storm. The Predators had already checked out of their hotel prior to the game. With so many people trapped downtown, finding a hotel to accommodate the Predators traveling party was not easy, but lodging was secured.
Complicating the Predators return home on Friday was the aftermath of the storm. The team was utilizing charter aircraft and priority for the de-icing equipment at Lambert Airport was in favor of commercial traffic. De-icing was necessary as the front wheels of the plane were frozen in position.
The team arrived early at the airport to board the plane so they could be ready to take off whenever they were cleared. While on the plane, the passengers were being entertained by a magician who was the guest of forward Darcy Hordichuk. He was performing card tricks - one illusion he did even made one of his cards appear to be on the plane's wing.
One thing has not been an illusion - the Predators have brought a wonderful tradition to the National Hockey League - which ties family and hockey together!