Sens enjoy quality time with dads on road

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:59 PM ET

DENVER — Not long after the final buzzer sounds either at Scotiabank Place or another NHL rink, Reno Spezza’s phone is certain to ring.

On the other end of the line will be his 27-year-old son Jason, who’s just calling for a quick chat.

“You know what, I’m fortunate and I’m blessed that he gives me that two-minute call after every game,” said the elder Spezza with a wide smile. “Whether it’s a bad game or a good game, he calls.

“I’m really appreciative of that because the bond was always there when he was little and he’s continued that. So, for me, that’s phenomenal.”

This weekend, the Senators centre doesn’t have to pick up the phone.

Along with 12 other dads, Reno Spezza is on the Senators’ fathers’ trip for a second straight season.

The two-game roadie started with a stop against the Minnesota Wild. The group went for dinner Wednesday in Minneapolis. On Thursday, they had the pleasure of attending the skate and pre-game meal at the hotel.

They took in the game in a private suite, then boarded a charter for the two-hour, late-night flight to Denver.

The players get a chance to room with their dads, which is a nice touch as well.

“It’s fun to have my dad here, hang out,” said Jason Spezza. “It’s fun to sit around, talk with your dad and share memories and stuff. We started talking about minor hockey. It’s just a good forum with all the dads around to relive the old memories.”

It’s not all serious business.

Winger Chris Neil joked that his father Barry is “snoring a lot less than last year.”

Fathers over age 60 had an 11 p.m. curfew. Those under 60 were allowed to stay out until 12:30 a.m.

The players are just enjoying the quality time.

“It’s great to have him along,” said Neil. “Just having him along and mingling with the other fathers, it’s great. They all seem to get along great, and they get to see different cities, different rinks.

“We had an awesome dinner (in Minneapolis) with them. Just sitting around and shooting the guff, bringing everyone together was good. They know what we do at the rink. They know what it’s about. But being able to be around at different arenas, it’s different from being at home, for sure.”

The fathers look forward to this weekend.

“It’s great. This is one of the fun weekends,” said Reno Spezza. “You get to meet all the fathers of the other players. You get to bond with your own sons. It’s unbelievable what they go through.

“Just to experience it, and we had an opportunity to do that last (season, in January). It’s great for the players as well. It’s a different routine that they’re in with the fathers. Just joking with everybody. It’s a good time.”

The Spezzas don’t have a typical father/son relationship. Reno coached Jason from when he was 3 to 13.

“He told me, ‘Dad, I gotta move on, I can’t have you as a coach anymore.’ The way he was developing, it wasn’t a good fit with the dad/son,” said Reno.

“I love coaching, I love working with kids. A lot of these kids you run into along the way. I still have the gamesheet from a game we played against Ryan Shannon when he was a kid. Brent Burns (with Minnesota) and I coached. All these things bring back memories. It’s really fun.”

Now they’re getting a chance to make new memories.

Even if Reno Spezza and the other dads aren’t here, they’re always just a phone call away.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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