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Family Weekend a learning experience

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
PHOTOS: Rangers Family Weekend

By Greg Fernandez, special to

The Rangers; second annual Family Weekend was held at the MSG Training Center this past weekend as 10 families joined former Rangers Adam Graves, Stephane Matteau and the Rangers Hockey Development Team for a weekend of family bonding.

The families were treated to on-ice sessions, special activites outside of the Training Center, and the chance to hone their hockey skills while learning from Rangers greats.

“Our greatest joys in life start with our family,” said Graves, who was joined by his daughter Montana this year's event. “I like to think that life is full of capsules and this is creating a capsule or a memory, if you will, that will last a lifetime.”

Blueshirts great Adam Graves talks to families attending the second annual Rangers Family Weekend during one of the event's off-ice sessions held on Saturday at the MSG Training Center.
Throughout the weekend, stories were shared and lessons were learned. Matteau relished the opportunity to hear from the families, share some of his own experiences, and spend time with his own daughter, Allison, as well.

“For me, it's a great time to get to know our kids and get to know other people's kids as well” Matteau said with a grin. “They all have their stories. I always want to hear those stories of the kids and I really look forward to it.”

Jim Coppola, who came with his father and his son, participated in the inaugural Family Weekend last year and made sure he was a part of the second one as well.

“Last year, the Rangers invited my son and I into their family, and the reason why I’m a Ranger fan is because my father is a Ranger fan,” Coppola said. “Along the lines of all the memories that he created for me, now I want to create them for my son. Weekends like this one provide a great opportunity for that.”

For the kids, most of them said they enjoyed all the hockey they got to play. Justin Filippelli was one youngster who said the best thing about the Family Weekend was getting to hang with his dad.

During the on-ice sessions, Graves and Matteau interacted extensively with the families. They also held off-ice sessions and spent time in the classroom, stressing to the kids and parents the importance of  communication, leadership, nutrition and fitness, along with team-building exercises for the groups to get better acquainted.

On the final day, the groups played in what Graves called “The Big Game.” The Training Center was opened up for all of the participants' other family members to come in and cheer on their players.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to bond with your kids, learn together, and more importantly learn from each other,” Graves said. “We can learn from other campers, learn from other families and at the same time reinforce what you're trying to accomplish with your kids and as a family. Doing it in an atmosphere that you obviously have a love and have passion for, and that’s Ranger hockey. It is a privilege to have these families here.”
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