GLENDALE, Ariz. — Hockey dads are no different than any other dads. Sometimes, they just want to make their kids squirm.
“Awkwardness? No,” Brandon Saad said. “But I think it’s pretty funny when you hear some embarrassing stories. There are a lot of those.”
Most of the Blackhawks, even many of the Europeans, brought their fathers along with them for the trip to Arizona and San Jose this week. The biennial dads trip — it rotates with the moms trip every other year — allows the dads to get a taste of what life’s like on the road for the Hawks. Literally, in some ways.
“They get to see how much food is available, and how much we eat all the time,” Andrew Shaw said.
Added Hawks coach Joel Quenneville: “They get to feel and experience a lot of the things we do, and get to realize how spoiled we are — the way we travel, the way we’re treated.”
Playing in front of their dads is nothing new, so there’s no child-like pressure to perform. George Saad often makes the quick drive from Pittsburgh when the Hawks have a few home games in a row, and Doug Shaw spent three weeks in Chicago earlier this season.
“You think it’s nice,” Shaw deadpanned. “You didn’t have to live with him.”
If there’s a risk to having the dads along, it’s that hockey players are notorious creatures of habit. But the dads know that, and steer clear of the team on game day. They had a big group dinner together Wednesday night in the Phoenix area, then let the players go to bed early while the dads hung out among themselves.
On Thursday, many of the dads attended the morning skate, then went for a tour of the nearby White Sox training facility at Camelback Ranch, just down the road in Glendale, while the players got in their customary pregame naps.
“They kind of just let us do our own thing, and then they hang out as a group and do their own thing,” Shaw said. “They know we like to get to bed early, or have rituals to do. I don’t think it interrupts too much.”
Besides, even if it is a little disruptive, it’s also a welcome change of pace during a long season in which players spend most of their time away from their families.
“They do so much for us growing up, and it’s nice to be able to give back,” Saad said. “It’s a great thing that the Blackhawks organization does, and it’s a lot of fun.”