Marc Staal's Father's Day Letterby Marc Staal / New York Rangers
Your perspective on life changes when that first baby arrives. I should know. I have three.
Having children is a big change, and you don't know how much of a change until you're in the moment. You can be told over and over how big the commitment is, but it's impossible to grasp how much you'll be dedicating your life to supporting your children.
And it's the best responsibility you'll ever take on.
When I was younger, my older teammates would talk about how fatherhood puts everything into perspective. Anything that's happening on and off the ice flies out the window the second you get home. They don't care if you had a big win or a tough loss; all they care about is that dad is home. They immediately make you forget about the things you were concerned about before. You just want to be there for the kids. I've enjoyed every second of it.
Anna came first four years ago, followed by Emily about two years later. This year, my wife, Lindsay, and I officially became outnumbered when Jack joined the team eight months ago.
It's been special to see both Anna and Emily grow into their different personalities. Anna is caring, thoughtful and is always aware of what's going on. Emily outgoing and has a crazy amount of energy. From morning until night, she's nonstop and always getting into things she shouldn't.
And then there's Jack, who just chills watching his sisters go nuts all day, which makes things easier on mom and dad.
I had a first-hand look at how to raise a group of kids. As one of four boys, my dad Henry, would put in long hours on the sod farm during the summer, working from morning until sometimes 10 pm. The four of us learned from him the importance of a strong work ethic, but also about the importance of spending time with your family.
Despite the long hours, he'd walk through the door ready to wrestle and play with us. We were ready to pounce on him the moment he came home.
He and my mom, Linda, would somehow always make it out to our big moments in hockey, something that's easier said than done with four boys all playing the sport at a high level. But he'd make it a point to be there for us, from drafts to big games, he's been a staple.
My best memories, though, were when we'd get some alone time together, often in the car driving to and from watching my brothers play, or on a road trip with one of my teams. With three other brothers fighting for his time, one-on-one time was hard to come back.
Often the best memories are the ones that don't seem it at the time. I remember when I was 13 or 14 years old, he and I were in the car driving home from a game. I was navigating the map - there were no smartphones back then - and he was driving. To this day I'm not sure what went wrong, but we somehow ended up in a field in the middle of nowhere in Ontario.
I have a lot of love and respect for my dad, and a new appreciation for what he did for us. As a kid, you feel the love from your parents, but can't understand how dedicated they have to be to make sure their children are loved and nurtured. He cares and loves all his boys, and all his grandchildren, and we appreciate that.
Happy Father's Day to my dad and all the dad's out there.