BROSSARD, Que — One can only imagine what Ted Condon was thinking when his plane touched down in Montreal on Monday.
Picture turning your phone on to find out your son was just named the NHL’s third star of the week. What a moment.
The Canadiens backup is enjoying a fairy tale start to his NHL career; 6-0-1 with an infinitesimal 1.57 goals-against average and a remarkable .940 save percentage.
Ted, a state police sergeant in Massachusetts, is in for the Canadiens’ fathers’ trip, which will take place from Tuesday to Thursday as the team travels to Pittsburgh for a Wednesday game against the Penguins.
"He told me he’s very proud," said Mike on Monday. "He was everything. We come from a blue collar family, and just paying for goalie pads and prep school when money was tight was huge for me, so [I’m] just trying to follow his lead."
The stories of personal sacrifices from NHL parents are always endearing.
Jerry Price bought a plane to fly his young son Carey to games and practices, as driving him 320 kilometers to and from Williams Lake, B.C., became too taxing an endeavour. The Prices live in Anahim Lake, a remote town of 700 people located in the mountains of interior B.C.
"It was more of a lawnmower with wings," said Jerry a few years back of the four-seat Piper Cherokee.
The Canadiens have made the fathers’ trip a biannual event. The mothers have their turn in between.
"It’s real special," said defenceman P.K. Subban. "Now it’s the second time with my pops, so I’m pretty excited about it.
"My dad’s now retired, so you know I’m sure he’s looking forward to it."
‘Big Karl’ Subban, as he’s affectionately referred to by his sons P.K., Malcolm and Jordan and daughters Nastassia and Natasha, used to come home late from his job as a high school principal to wake P.K. up for late-night skates at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square.
When P.K. was asked Monday about his most cherished hockey memory shared with his father, he pointed to the 2009 World Junior Championships.
"I remember after we won in Ottawa, he knew how important that was to me because the first year [in Pardubice, CZE.] I didn’t really get to play," recounted Subban. "The second year I wanted to do a little bit more and definitely wanted to win a gold medal, and I did. I remember after the game he came down and gave me a big hug and it was pretty emotional."
Assistant captain Brendan Gallagher credits father Ian with giving him the best access to hockey in its purest form.
"He used to go outside and shovel off our outdoor pond," said Gallagher. "Every single morning he’d take a hot water heater—we called it a mini Zamboni—and he’d shovel off the ice and I’d be out there on that thing all day. He’d be out there with me skating around. Those are the best memories for me because I can think back even as I was a little kid, as young as I can remember, when I was living in Alberta he’d be out there late at night, he’d be setting up lights and setting up nets and finding pucks in the snowbank for me to just go out and do what I loved."
Gallagher laughed as he recounted one of the biggest childhood lessons his father served up at the Brick Hockey Invitational Tournament held annually in Edmonton.
"After that I was sulking around because they didn’t count my goal," said Gallagher. "When I was a young kid I pouted a lot, I used to take my ball and go home if something didn’t go my way. He saw that the rest of the period I wasn’t really trying, I was sulking around, and he came down to the room, lifted me up and put me against the wall and told me that if I act like that I’d never be able to play the game of hockey again.
"He still brings that up to this day. When I think something doesn’t go my way and I act a little childish, he’s sure to bring it up to me to remember that moment."
When Canadiens defenceman Nathan Beaulieu was growing up, his father Jacques was a tenured OHL coach.
Beaulieu and his father are one of two father-son duos to win a Memorial Cup (Dale Hunter and son Dylan with the OHL’s London Knights are the other duo).
"I could go with him to work and just kinda skate and hang out with a junior hockey team," said Beaulieu. "It was cool growing up in that situation, and now he gets to see the lifestyle we’re living in the NHL."