Fathers' trip rejuvenates players

JASON YORK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:04 AM ET

Everyone enjoys a few days of rest and relaxation around the Christmas holidays, and NHLers are no different.

The season is a grind. Players look forward to the Christmas break because it allows them to get away from the rink for a few days, rest and recharge their batteries for the season’s pressure-packed second half.

Though the Christmas break hasn’t arrived yet this season, the Senators did get a much-needed boost last week when their dads joined them on their road trip. Having their fathers travelling with them for their games in Colorado and Minnesota seemed to lighten the players’ moods, and the team earned three of a possible four points.

The result was very encouraging for a team that has struggled all season, particularly on the road.

Many fans might downplay the impact of the Senators’ dads being on the road with them, but I know from experience having my father accompany me on a road trip when I played with the Nashville Predators was one of the highlights of my career.

The Predators were the first NHL team to bring players’ dads along on the road. Since then, many other teams have followed suit, with some teams now hosting moms’ trips as well.

The teams I was with usually played better when the dads came along. For me, the No. 1 reason has its roots in the days when we played minor hockey growing up. After games, we would ask our dads on the ride home if they saw that great play we made, or we would talk with our fathers about whether we made the right decision in different situations on the ice. Those are moments you cherish later in life, and having your dad on the road rekindles those feelings.

Friday night’s overtime loss to the Avalanche was one of the most exciting Senators games of the year — a fast-paced, back-and-forth thriller. Still, the thing that struck me most about the game had nothing to do with the action on the ice and everything to do with what I saw in the stands.

It brought a big smile to my face seeing the Senators’ dads when the camera showed them. I could tell by their expressions how much it meant to them to watch their sons play a game they have shared and enjoyed with them all their lives.

The highlight of the night was watching the joy on the face of Jason Spezza’s father Reno as he talked about what it meant to be on the road with his son — the grown man who Reno says still calls him after every game just to talk and the same person who used to talk hockey with his dad on the car ride home.


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