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Moms help Stars' players, staff remember where they came from

Showing appreciation for all their contributions, this season's Mom's Trip gives the team a chance to say 'thank you'

by Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- "Finding Your Roots" was on PBS Friday night.

It's a show where researchers help celebrities study their ancestry and see where they came from and maybe why they're like they are.

And it's usually pretty fascinating to see how knowing the past can affect the person being studied.

The Stars are having a little "Finding Your Roots" episode of their own this week, as they are being joined by their mothers on a two-game trip to Nashville and Arizona. It's a twist in the traditional "Dad's Trip," and it's a wonderful way to show appreciation to the mothers for all of their contributions.


[LIFE ON THE ROAD: Team photographer Sean Berry takes you behind the scenes of this season's Mom's Trip]


"It gives the players a chance to thank their moms for all of the drives to the rink in the morning or holding their hands when things weren't going well or watching them play so many games, whether it be college or juniors or however they got here," said Stars GM Jim Nill. "It's a nice thank you, and for the moms, it allows them to see what their sons' lives are like."

On Wednesday night, the Stars flew from Nashville to Phoenix after a 3-2 overtime loss, and arrived at their hotel near 2 a.m. The experience was just a glimpse of the organized chaos that professional athletes live with, and the moms found a good way to adapt.

"I think 90 percent of them were sleeping while we were playing cards," Stars captain Jamie Benn joked.

The trip is different than the Dad's Trip, because the moms typically don't want to talk hockey after the game. But it's also different because players don't always get that 1-on-1 time with their moms.

Stars center Jason Spezza said he "talks shop" with his dad, Rino, on a regular basis either after games or on off days, so having time with his mom on this trip has been fun. The trip has allowed him to explore how he is a combination of the two personalities.

"I get being laid back from her," Spezza said. "She's the most level-headed and most level-tempered. My mom has never really told me anything about hockey. The only thing she says is she wants me to smile and have a good time when I'm playing. She's a typical mom."

Tyler Seguin said his mom, Jackie, "has a big personality," and it's not difficult to see she passed that down to her son. In fact, after Seguin and Benn pranked their moms on the TSN show "Cabbie Presents" a few years back by telling each they had met the girls of their dreams and were going to propose, the two moms got revenge. Instead of just letting the prank go, Jackie Seguin and Heather Benn engineered their own prank.

Jackie told Tyler she decided she wanted to become a sports agent and that she wanted to represent Tyler, and he bought it.

"I think she got me better than I got her," Seguin admitted.

Stories like that have made the trip fun, and allowed players to look into the past. Heather Benn had two future NHL'ers in her house in Jamie and brother Jordie, and Jamie said he understands where his soft-spoken personality comes from.

"I don't know how she put up with us," Jamie Benn said. "There were a lot of hockey activities going on, whether that was mini sticks or shooting pucks in the garage or playing road hockey or fighting each other. … I don't know how she did it, but she's a strong woman."

And while the gathering brings happy memories, like any family reunion, it can bring sad ones, too. Stars video coach Kelly Forbes lost his mom Arlene to cancer last month. Arlene Forbes has been an important part of the Stars family for years, and was one of the people responsible for the first Mom's Trip. After watching her husband Randy go on the Dad's Trips, Arlene put the bug in the ear of Nill to assemble a Mom's Trip.

"I know how much she wanted to be on this trip," Nill said. "And she is -- she's with us."

The Stars staff created stickers for Stars players to wear on their helmets, and the coaches wore "AEF" buttons on the bench. It was a tribute to a strong woman and good friend, and it was also a show of support to Kelly Forbes.

Video: For Stars, hockey is more than a game - it's family

"It means the world to my family," Kelly Forbes said. "It just proves to me how loved she was. The outpouring of support is a testament to who she was as a person. It's been very nice to see. It's been very emotional, but very nice."

Kelly said he has had many positive reminders of his mom on the trip, including hearing one of her favorite songs, "Broken Halos" by Chris Stapleton, when he was in Nashville, and carrying the Stars jersey the team had made up for her.

"Everything I do, there has been something that reminded me of her," Forbes said. "The first song I heard was one of her favorite songs in Nashville. I've had her jersey, and I've kept it with me in my room, so she's with me."

Forbes said one of the best parts of his mom's memories is knowing how they shaped him, how they made him like her.

"She was just the most positive woman who always wanted to do the right thing, and I think about the things she did all of the time," Forbes said. "You always hope to make her proud."

And understanding that past makes moving forward a little bit easier. There are emotional challenges every day, but having the support of the group is huge. Forbes said he wondered if he might shy away from the group because the memories might be too strong, but he said he has learned a pretty good lesson during the Mom's Trip.

"I wanted to be around the moms and feel their energy, and do the events that mom would have wanted to do," he said. "I'm not going to hide from it, I want to be there. It's tough, but this is her dream trip and I wanted to treat it like she's here, because she is here. I wanted to be around the moms and they've been great.

"It's been so fun to be around them and it's honestly helped me, it really has."

Because sometimes the past and present really can fit together perfectly.


Thank you, mom

Here are the mothers who have joined the Stars' players and staff on this road trip:

  • Heather Benn

  • Cindy Bishop

  • Debra Carrick

  • Teri Cogliano

  • Dianne Comeau

  • Nicola Dickinson

  • Alena Faksova

  • Jacqui Fedun

  • Eva Hanzalova

  • Anna Klingberg

  • Margareta Nylen (Janmark)

  • Amy Pitlick

  • Alison Oleksiak

  • Tammy Ritchie

  • Jackie Seguin

  • Donna Spezza

  • Cynthia Andrake

  • Andretta Lowry

  • Trella Nill

  • Arlene Rademan

  • Nancy Soetaert

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika.

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