Brad May has willingly accepted a paternal role with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
That says as much about his sense of humor as his age.
May, 38, recently went shopping with teammate Riley Armstrong, 25. Armstrong purchased a computer. When an unwitting salesperson commented on how lucky Armstrong was to get such a nice bauble, Armstrong said his dad bought it for him and pointed to May.
"He played it right up. It was fun," May said. "I said, 'Yeah, he's a spoiled brat.'"
No one said the AHL was going to be a complete joyride for the aging wing, although May wakes up every day trying to treat it that way.
May, a 19-year NHL veteran, was assigned to the Griffins for his first-ever AHL action after 1,041 games up top. In 40 games with the Red Wings this season, he had one assist.
"There's obviously a lot of difficult days playing hockey. But it's how you react from those times that shape who you are," he said. "If I walked around with a chip on my shoulder, that could affect the way they look at you. I'm just one of the guys."
Except that some of those guys were close to not being born yet when the Sabres took May in the first round of the 1990 draft. And that none of them are close to having two teenagers, as May is with a 14-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter.
May spends his family time counseling his children and then makes himself available for teammates who might be in need of the same.
"I try not to be a blowhard. You can't just be spewing out a bunch of garbage," he said. "Either you have some good advice, or you don't. You see things all the time. But is it the right time or the right place (to say something)? These guys have been playing all year. It's not as if they are all green. They know exactly what it takes for their life to work."
May has an idea what keeps him perky every day. He said his demotion is a lot easier to take with just a few weeks left in the regular season instead of a few months. By the time the Red Wings begin their playoff run, May figures he'll have shown he can help in that endeavor.
"That's why I'm here. To win a Stanley Cup," he said. "It may seem a far way away. But it's not that far. My eyes are always on the ball. It's important to stay focused."