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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Fathers Trip A Cherished Occasion

Monday, 12.30.2013 / 3:45 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Fathers Trip A Cherished Occasion
Though the outcome of the game wasn\'t ideal, the weekend was one to remember, as a number of players\u2019 dads joined their sons on the road.
The outcome of the game wasn’t ideal, but the experience around it was truly special.

Michael Smith
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The Carolina Hurricanes hosted their annual fathers trip when the team visited Toronto for a Sunday evening tilt, which ended in a 5-2 loss.

But off the ice, the weekend was one to remember, as a number of players’ dads joined their sons on the road to glean first-hand what life on the road is like in the NHL.

“It’s an opportunity to thank the fathers,” head coach Kirk Muller said. “Overall, it’s a good way to say thanks and show the appreciation. It’s a pretty classy thing that the organization does.”

In all, 13 players’ fathers were with the Canes in Toronto, including Ron Bellemore, John Dwyer, Joe Gerbe, Kevin Gleason, Martin Hainsey, Roman Komisarek, Mark Murphy, Darrell Nash, Carl Peters, Harri Ruutu, Andrew Skinner, Ken Ward and Reg Westgarth.

Take Harri Ruutu, for instance. Tuomo said his dad makes the trip from Finland to North Carolina each year around Christmastime, but he’s never taken the dads trip – until this year, when the trip aligned with his time in Raleigh.

“It was fun for me to go on the road with my dad,” Tuomo said. “He got to experience what we do on the road every day. At the same time, hopefully it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for him, as well.”

Joe Gerbe had taken trips when his son, Nathan, played for the Buffalo Sabres. This was his first trip with a new group of fathers.

“It’s always nice. It’s been a few of them for us, too. It’s a lot of fun,” Nathan said. “We get to spend a lot of time together. We’re fortunate.”

The dads trip is a relatively new tradition, the Canes having held their inaugural outing in the 2005-06 season. Muller didn’t have one in his playing days, which ended in 2003, and his father has passed away.

“It would have been awesome,” Muller said of the trip that could have been. “He would have had a blast.”

Muller’s father was in attendance for a rather incomparable moment, as he saw his son score the game-winning goal and lift the Stanley Cup in Game 5 of the 1993 Finals series in Montreal.

“It was awesome. That was the perfect scenario,” Muller said. “He was down in the corner. I knew where he was sitting. Everyone used to ask, ‘You had an ‘A’ on your sweater. Why did it take you so long to get the Cup?’ And I was like, well I was waiting to get down to the corner where my dad was.”

With the Hurricanes flying up to Toronto on Saturday afternoon and flying back to Raleigh in the early morning hours of Monday, the players and their fathers didn’t have too much time away from the rink – after all, the team was there for business.

“We had our time,” Tuomo said. “It was nice to just go to dinner, have a nice dinner with him, talk about all kinds of stuff, walk around the city and just spend time with him. That’s all we need.”

The trip was also a chance to get a glimpse inside NHL life, especially for dads making the journey for the first time.

“It wasn’t like another day in the office,” Tuomo said. “I think it’s probably cool for him to see what we do every day. When he’s back home in Finland, he’s always wondering how I’m doing and what I’m doing. It’s probably easier to relate now that he knows how it works.”

Joe got to see his son pot a goal, which tied the game 1-1 in the second period and earned a fist bump from a fellow dad. And it wasn’t the first time this season that he’s seen his son score live. Superstition is rampant in hockey, so maybe he needs to come to every game?

“That’s what he thinks,” Nathan joked.

Now an annual excursion, the trip is a chance for the dads – who otherwise may never meet – to intermingle. Hockey, after all, is a community.

“It’s good for the other dads to meet each other,” Nathan said. “When we were in Buffalo, they were pretty close. He still keeps in contact with a lot of those guys.”

“It’s fun to see the fathers get to know their son’s teammates’ fathers and share the common thing of cheering for the team,” Muller said. “It was a special thing when you see them all together like that.”



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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
9 FLA 62 27 22 13 150 175 67
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 62 25 27 10 139 164 60
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 60 23 30 7 137 159 53
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 60 11 28 -14 39
E. Staal 55 18 18 -9 36
E. Lindholm 59 11 16 -15 27
J. Skinner 55 16 9 -15 25
R. Nash 57 7 15 -8 22
N. Gerbe 56 7 14 -11 21
V. Rask 58 8 11 -16 19
J. McClement 60 4 12 1 16
J. Staal 24 4 11 -1 15
A. Semin 36 2 12 -8 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 16 19 4 .914 2.35
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .906 2.60