DETROIT -- The award for longest journey to Detroit for the Red Wings' mothers and mentors trip definitely goes to Ulrica Ehn and Nina Nemeth, who traveled from Sweden to join their sons.
For Nemeth, traveling with Patrik, in his first year as a Wings defenseman, was an opportunity she could not pass up.
"I have been longing for it because his father has been on two fathers trips so well, it's my turn," she said. "So I think it's very fun.
"I have been with my other kids, seeing what they're doing every day. I think it's really important for me to see what they do every day."
It is also the first trip with the team for Ehn, whose son Christoffer is in his second NHL season.
"It's really exciting to follow the team behind the scenes," Ehn said. "Not only to see the games but to be part of the backstage. That will be a lot of fun."
Although they are six hours ahead, Ehn said she does talk to Christoffer frequently.
"We talk every week so he of course tells us what's going on," Ehn said. "But then to actually see it for yourself, it's another dimension."
Ehn has a younger daughter, Rebecca, who is also an athlete and said sports has always helped her remain close to her kids. "
That was also part of them growing up, to be able to go with them to all these things," Ehn said. "Even though they were seven or 12 or 16 or whatever, there have always been so many things as a parent that you get to experience. You get to meet lots of nice parents and experience these things with them.
"So even though I know that other parents maybe have kids that are not so involved in activities, they thought, when do you spend time with them? I spend a lot of time with them - in the car, going back and forth. I get a lot of quality time. So I think that's even more than if kids didn't have such activities. They would be more with friends, I think. So I think for me, it was really nice."
The systems in hockey are a bit different in Sweden than they are in North America, but it still often means that kids leave home at an early age.
"When he was 16, he was able to play on this team. It's more connecting with the school," Ehn said. "So it's a bit different how the system is built up with the clubs and then they have like high school, sports high schools, like a hockey school. So it's a bit different.
"He moved an hour and a half away when he was 16. So he lived in his own apartment. Of course we were not that far away. But still, it's growing up and learning to take responsibility very early. So going here, he was kind of prepared, I think, with being on his own."
Nemeth said she had an inkling that Patrik could reach the NHL when he was a teenager.
"I have that feeling since he was 15-16," Nemeth said. "But I'm his mom. He worked hard on the ice and outside the ice. I thought he was capable."
Both men were even younger than that when they first started talking about playing professional hockey.
"Patrik would say when he was five, I'm going to play hockey in the NHL," Nemeth said. ""Proud as a mother, very proud."
Ehn knew that it was not only hard work and ability that would determine whether Christoffer would realize his dream.
"He has always been very stubborn and determined to do this," Ehn said. "He always said when he was a small kid, it was never if I can, it was when. So he started saying that very early. But of course, still it takes a lot of hard work and luck. You have to be in the right place at the right time and you have to fit into the team. There are so many things, with injuries and everything. It's not just to be good at something, you have to have all these other things as well. It's a hard package.
"When you think about it sometimes, the fact that, if you have a dream, so big, and then to see someone fulfill it, it could be hockey or it could be something else, but this time it was hockey.
"That, I think, is the most fulfilling thing as a mother, to see that he has a dream and you can really reach it."