NEW YORK — With three bruising boys in the house, anything had the potential to devolve into a tussle. Whether the Strome kids played ministick hockey in their basement or bounced on the backyard trampoline, they were always a moment away from blood and tears.
Trish Strome could be the patron saint for mothers of boys. Hopefully her kids have grown up a little because she’ll be watching when Blackhawks center Dylan Strome takes on his older brother, Ryan, on Thursday against the Rangers.
Trish pretty much let the boys do what boys do, but there was one absolute rule and it’ll be enforced at Madison Square Garden: No punching each other.
“I’d probably freak out if they fought,” she said. “I don’t think they would. But I would cover my eyes.”
Mom didn’t fly in from Toronto for the week to see that. She went to the Hawks’ game Monday in New Jersey — an 8-5 humiliation, but at least “Dyl” had an assist — and the Rangers’ game Tuesday against the Hurricanes. Maybe one day she’ll see all three sons on the same team, like when the Hurricanes had a trio of Staals.
Here’s how an all-Strome line would look:
• Ryan (6-1, 194), 25, has seven goals and six assists in his sixth season. He’s on a two-year, $6.2 million contract.
•Dylan (6-3, 200), 21, is emerging as a quality player for the Hawks. He was drafted in the top five, like his older brother. Dylan has 10 goals, 12 assists.
•Matthew (6-4, 205) was drafted by the Flyers in the fourth round two years ago. He just turned 20 and is playing for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Ontario Hockey League as he strives to join his brothers in the NHL.
Imagine those three spending their childhood crashing through the house in Mississauga, Ontario. The Strome parents basically ceded the basement to their kids, delaying renovations until they moved out.
“We used to set up our basement, and our parents would come down and be like, ‘You guys really had to move all the couches?’ ” Dylan said. “Well, we needed boards. We can’t just hit each other into the wall. We were all goal scorers, but there was a lot of hitting.”
It often spilled outside, too.
“The garage door got destroyed,” Ryan said. “The backyard fence was destroyed. Everything you’d expect from three boys.”
While they wait for Matthew to make it, Ryan and Dylan head toward their fourth meeting.
Ryan won the three previous when he was with the Islanders and Oilers and Dylan played for the Coyotes. He’s 2-1 in faceoffs, according to Dylan’s unofficial stats.
Ryan also got Dylan two years ago when he smacked in a rebound as Dylan stood idly and didn’t pick him up. The TV broadcast caught Trish with a wry smile, clapping awkwardly as she tried to decide whether to be happy.
It’s a bit uncomfortable for the brothers, too, and they’d prefer never to play each other. Dylan said it’s “always kinda weird.” And the aforementioned goal isn’t a career highlight for Ryan because Dylan still was trying to establish himself.
“You have a job to do, but you’re kind of on the ice looking out for your brother,” Ryan said. “You want to succeed, but you’d rather not score on him. It’s a little weird.
“Now that he’s thriving, I don’t have as much of a problem going after him. Hopefully I’ll pick his pocket once or twice Thursday.”
That goes both ways, bro.
“There’s that little bit of bragging rights, and he’s 3-0 against me, so I owe him one,” Dylan said. “I want him to do well every night except Thursday.”