PHILADELPHIA – In their steady, successful run that culminated with a Stanley Cup title in 2011, the Bruins never really tried out one of the father’s road trips that many other NHL teams have adopted in the past 10 or 15 years.
Perhaps it was a Claude Julien, or it was an organizational thing, but either way it never really happened for the Black and Gold.
Clearly, it was about business first and foremost at that point and it was something the B’s had never really done before as it becomes en vogue around the NHL. But they’ve started making up for lost time, and gotten into the act the past few seasons inviting the B’s players’ moms and dads on Bruins road trips.
An impressive group of Bruins’ paterfamilias are with the players in Philadelphia this weekend and will be in Nashville on Monday as well as they get an up-close look at the NHL lifestyle of their talented sons. It’s clearly a treat for the dads after serving key roles in the hockey upbringing of their sons, and it’s also a cherished trip for the players who don’t get to spend too much family time in a bustling season.
“It’s good. So far, so good. They really love being here, and we love having them around. So hopefully we get a big win for them. You never want to let your parents down, so hopefully, we have a big performance,” said Danton Heinen, whose dad Rick is a bigger, balder spitting image of the young B’s winger. “Just showing him the day-to-day life [is cool], and just spending time with him. He’s a long ways away [in British Columbia]. He’s all the way across the country, so it’s great spending time with him and showing him what it’s like.”
In all, 21 fathers are traveling with the Bruins players. Fathers living in faraway places, such as Zdeno Chara’s dad and Anton Khudobin’s father, didn’t make the trip, and David Pastrnak’s father passed away when he was a teenager. Instead, Pastrnak will have his brother with him on the trip. More members of Tim Schaller's family are descending on Philly to be a giant New Hampshire-based Bruins rooting section at the Wells Fargo Center.
“I think it’s awesome. As a player, we didn’t do that way back then, and I lost my dad when I was 21. So I’m not sure we would have had a chance, but I would have loved to do it. We had the moms last year, and they had a great time,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “Hopefully the guys put their best foot forward for their dads. I think it’s a great acknowledgment of the time, support and effort that they lent to their children’s success. You can’t get there without that.”
One thing for certain with all the dads in a luxury box watching in Philly and Nashville: The Bruins players should have plenty of motivation to take two points in each spot and make certain that the father/son plane trips are happy ones through the two-game trip over the next three days.