Our team held its annual ‘Father’s Trip’ earlier this week and it was a great time for both me and my dad (Fred), who got to see how the mechanics of an NHL road trip work for the first time. To actually see that was a big deal for him because as a parent, he’s always asking about that sort of thing and parents are always intrigued by it. They’re always interested in your life and for them to have a mental picture now is pretty special.
Before our game against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, the coaches invited all the dads into our dressing room to see our pre-game routine. Unfortunately, my dad wasn’t there because he went to an Andrea Bocelli concert that night. It was something I’d planned to send him to three weeks before the Father’s Trip was organized. My mom’s birthday is Valentine’s Day and the concert happened to fall on Valentine’s Day, so that’s where they were that night (my mom didn’t stay for any of the games).
My dad was a little disappointed that he missed that opportunity, but I know the other dads talked to him about how special it was. As he said, ‘I never know what the coach is saying to you guys’ or ‘I never know what the (pre-game routine) is like’ or what you’re doing at this time before the game. It’s nice now that he has a better feel for all of that.
The best part of the trip for me was getting to spend some time with my dad, which doesn’t happen much during the season. We were chatting on the flight down and we were able to talk when we all went out to golf on Sunday. That night, we went to Ocean Prime for dinner, so we were able to chat a lot then, too, and we had breakfast together the next day. The whole trip was a lot of fun and I think he really enjoyed it. Some of his old friends from back when he was going to school in Boston came down to see him the second night we were there. It was really special for him because he got to include a lot of different things on the trip.
It’s been a long time since my dad and I had that kind of experience together. It would have been when I was 13 or 14 years old and the parents still rode on the bus. It’s been a long time for him and again, when you’re not used to being around it — it’s probably been 12 years since he’s been around it — you don’t know what’s going on and he’s always curious about how things work. He was pretty impressed, but I’d say he was also a little jealous of how well we get treated.
Our team seems to win every time we have the dads with us and it’s something that’s hard to explain. Maybe it’s because you still have that child in you and you want to impress your dad. Back then, if you played a bad game, you don’t want to go back in the car because you’re going to hear the same thing ... ‘do you really want to play this game, because you weren’t trying too hard out there.’ Maybe it just takes us back to those old days, when you really want to impress your dad. Maybe that’s it.