Worlds are kid, folks friendly

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

HALIFAX -- It's like a big family picnic. You've got grandpas and grandmas, moms and dads and kids all over the place.

It's become the biggest reason Team Canada players have started saying "yes" to playing in the IIHF World Championships. And all those relatives wanting to stay around to the end may also be a big reason Canada is winning gold at this tournament again.

"I have all my family here, my wife (Andrea), my daughters (Gracie and Karys), my sons (Josh and Carson), my mom (Bernice), my dad (Bernie), my brother (Brook) and my father-in-law (Bruce)," said captain Shane Doan of half the population of Halkirk.

"It's wonderful. It's one of the greatest experiences you and your family can have with the game. Hockey Canada is brilliant at organizing it.

"You just show up and they do everything.

TO MOSCOW

"Last year I took two of my kids to Moscow. You normally probably wouldn't take your kids on a holiday to Moscow. But they got to go to the Kremlin and saw a lot of things they'd never have seen in their lives. My daughter is studying the history of North America and she's really into what's around here and what she's looking forward to seeing in Quebec City.

"Hockey Canada plans trips for them on the mornings and afternoons of game days. They do everything. You show up and they do everything. It's a wonderful experience. They look after the meals, plan their days, and make it a really enjoyable time.

"Guys all get to know your kids. The first thing my kids wanted to know when I decided to come again this year was if Jason Chimera was coming. They think he's crazy and like him a lot. The kids play ball hockey in the hall at the hotel. And it's great for the rest of the family, too. They're always asking 'What's this guy like?' and 'What's that guy like?' Here they can sit down with a guy like Rick Nash and really get to know him."

Nash brings his grandfather John every year.

"It's awesome. He's been to all the world championships and even the Olympics with me. It's something special for me and my grandpa. It makes it a special relationship between the two of us."

Steve Staios has his wife Susanna, son Nathan, daughter Ella, dad Paul and mom Mary from Hamilton here this year. And it's extra special with his mom and dad.

"My parents came from Macedonia nine months apart and landed in Halifax at Pier 21. They both have such vivid memories of their arrival in Halifax and Pier 21 is 50 metres from our hotel. They didn't realize how close they'd be to it.

"There are so many experiences involved around the team for your family and Hockey Canada does such a great job that you really feel fortunate to be part of this," said Staios.

Goaltender Cam Ward has wife Cody, mom Laura and dad Ken from Sherwood Park.

"It's great to bring your parents. They did so much driving around to get you to hockey when you were a kid, it's nice to bring them on a trip like this for hockey.

"Last year I brought my best friend from Sherwood Park to Moscow. I'll never forget his excitement when I made that phone call to invite him."

Team Canada provides one airline ticket per player. That's it. It doesn't matter if the event is in Prague, Innsbruck, Goteborg, Helsinki, Moscow, Riga or Halifax and Quebec City.

"It's not a huge expense," said Hockey Canada CEO Bob Nicholson. "It's the organization of activities, meals and everything from a mini-rink for the kids at the Metro Centre to a room at the hotel with video games and table top hockey at the hotel that takes a lot of staff time and effort," he said of Scott Salmond's team which hosted a Mother's Day brunch after practice yesterday.

"It's where we can really show the players how much we respect them for playing for Team Canada," said Nicholson.

FAM DAMILIES

While the families don't show up until midway in the tournament after the players have had a chance to bond together, the wives, kids, parents and grandparents arrived the day before the 10-1 win over Germany and are a key to success the rest of the way, according to Ken Hitchcock.

"Players don't want it to end. The players don't want to go home. They're enjoying this with each other and with their families here now," said Hitchcock. "Hockey Canada is just so damn good at it that the family keeps you going with their excitement, too."

It's one thing to have the pressure of playing for your country. But when one guy's grandpa and another guy's daughter can't wait to see Quebec City, it adds a whole new dimension to "Go Canada Go."


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