Chasing father time

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

The Pittsburgh Penguins have joined Carolina and the Islanders in organizing a father's trip for their players this season. The concept, bringing dad along on a two-game trip, was born in Nashville.

"We heard that in Buffalo, if a player's father was in town, they'd let him come on the plane with the team for a game," said Preds coach Barry Trotz. "We decided to take it one step further and have a dad's trip in our first season, 1998. We looked at our opening night lineup, saw a grand total of 78 goals, and figured we better make things a little fun around here.

"It worked so well we decided to keep doing it. It's a nice bonding thing for the dads and the players. As long as Craig (Leipold) is the owner it'll be a tradition in Nashville."

Trotz says the dads are not a distraction, but actually a great motivator for the players, who don't want to look bad in front of the old man.

"Our all-time winning percentage in those games is close to .800," said Trotz. "One of the best comments was from Tom Fitzgerald one year, telling the guys, 'We have to win this game because I don't want to have to listen to my dad for the next 54 hours.' "

THE BIGGEST LOSERS: Life isn't fair, and neither is the new NHL.

The Sharks have fewer losses than first-place Anaheim, but sit fifth in their conference because the teams ahead of them are padding their totals with OT and shootout losses. San Jose doesn't have a single welfare point this year. And thanks to the divisional setup, the fifth-place Sharks have eight more points than the third-place Canucks.

"The points we have this year are basically legitimate," said head coach Ron Wilson. "We don't have any of the thrown-in bonus points. Anaheim is ahead of us but technically they've lost more games than us. Hopefully in the end it doesn't cost us."

BETTER BREAD THAN RED: It's going to cost a pretty penny to buy a ticket to a Red Wings game in Phoenix. Seems there's such a huge pocket of Michigan people living in Arizona that they drown out the home team every time the Wings visit. Rather than have 40% of the crowd cheering for the opposition, the Coyotes are trying to discourage the Wing-nuts by doubling the price of tickets for any Wings game.

They say it won't affect what they call "regular Coyotes fans" because there's no increase for Wings games included in season ticket packages or mini-packs.

But if you only come out twice a year to see the Wings, it'll cost you.

"We have a ton of people from Michigan who live down here," said Coyote spokesman Richard Nairn. "It's non-stop red. We're trying to get more Coyote fans in the building because Michigan fans buy up all the tickets."

FIGHTING WORDS: When the Blue Jackets and Blues went to a shooutout this week, not one Canadian got a chance to shoot. It was two Czechs, two Americans, a Russian and a Swede. Asked why, Norwegian defenceman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, replied: "Canadians have got no hands. They're all dump and chase." It should be noted that both teams are below the playoff cutline ... Jeremy Roenick hasn't lost his marketability, just ask him: "I'm past my prime in terms of star power," he said. "But even though you can only market role players so much, I think I still have a strong persona in this town." ... How the mighty have fallen - nobody from the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes nor the runner-up Edmonton Oilers was voted to the All-Star game.

HAS-BEEN TOWN: Best unofficial nickname for a minor league team goes to the media in Boston, who've dubbed the team's AHL affiliate in Providence the Wanna B's ... Can there be a more perfect analyst for the NHL on American TV than outspoken Brett Hull, who promises to pull no punches on NBC? "You don't have to be a jerk about it," he said. "But if you've got a feeling and you feel that there's an injustice in the game that you're playing that you love, say it and there shouldn't be any penalty for that." Amen.

PIT STOP: Goalie Glenn Hall was so nervous before games he used to throw up. Florida defenceman Steve Montador went another direction when told he'd be in the shootout against Roberto Luongo. "I went to the bathroom," he said. "The nerves were going a little bit. From the blue-line in I didn't remember what happened. I mean, I knew what happened but I had to see it on tape again to see how it all went down." He scored.


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