It’s the type of move that should put Brad Treliving in the conversation for GM of the year.
No, not the Mike Smith acquisition or the Mikael Backlund signing.
This move involved coming up with the perfect solution for a problem every team in the league started worrying about once Vegas was brought into the league.
Management types undoubtedly lost sleep wondering how best they could insulate their players from the sort of temptations and titillations Sin City offers up.
The Calgary Flames came up with an idea guaranteed to be copied around the league for years: Invite the moms.
Yes, for the first time in franchise history the Flames are hosting a moms trip – a clever take on the age-old fathers trips that have been so popular.
The Flames are not the first to have players’ moms join them on their charter flight for a pair of roadies. However, they are the first to marry a maternal meeting like that with Vegas.
Let’s face it, of all the things a young man could possibly want in Vegas, it’s quite likely his mother is very last on that list.
“Well planned out,” said a laughing Flames forward Troy Brouwer, unconvinced it was a coincidence the inaugural moms trip happened to be slated for Vegas. “I don’t think so. When I was in Chicago we had a moms trip and they had an absolute blast. I think the moms were actually a little wilder than the dads when we had the dads trip.
“My mom is not a huge drinker so I’m excited to try to pump a few drinks into her tonight and see if she’ll get a little noisy tonight.”
Flames director of team operations Sean O’Brien said 21 of the players’ moms — plus eight mothers of coaches and management types — jumped on the team’s charter flight from Calgary on Tuesday with plans for the sons and moms to take in Cirque de Soleil’s Michael Jackson One show hours after landing. It’s sure to keep keep the players in check, if not a little nervous.
“The (players) tense up for sure because they don’t know what (the moms) are going to say,” said Glen Gulutzan, who has invited the moms to partake in the team’s morning meeting before Wednesday’s game.
“A couple guys in Vancouver were really nervous having their mom there. They did not know how that was going to play out.”
Gulutzan vouched for the likelihood the moms will be living it up more than the lads.
“I’m going to throw my mom under the bus. She went on that trip in Vancouver and I haven’t seen my mom have a glass of wine in 30 years,” smiled Gulutzan, whose club plays Arizona on Thursday, with the moms in tow.
“She’s a small town lady from Saskatchewan. I came back to my room and she was getting all dolled up and going to meet the girls for a glass of wine – I nearly fell over. I hadn’t seen that in my life. Those ladies had a lot of fun.”
Treliving wouldn’t take credit for inviting the most responsible of roomies possible to bunk in with their sons on the trip.
“We just thought it would be good for the fellas to have their moms accompany them to Vegas,” said Treliving, playing it straight.
Although no one believes him, Gulutzan also completely brushed off the obvious insinuation there’s an ulterior motive at play.
“I don’t know exactly who made the call, but I know the moms are thankful for it. A few of them look like they’re ready to go here,” said a chuckling Brouwer, who will draw into the lineup for the first time since fracturing his cheek a week-and-a-half ago.
“I think Burkie (hockey president Brian Burke) was actually against it. He’s old school.”
Burke at first seemed to be living by the ol’ what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas credo before admitting, “Tree’s idea.”
Fact is, with the Flames winning just one of their last eight home games, and tensions ratcheting up as they fall down the standings, the lighter mood can only help.
“On the plane, the swearing is kept to a minimum. Other than that, it’s not much different,” said Brouwer when asked what the moms’ trip was like when he experienced it as a Chicago Blackhawk.
“The moms are there to enjoy themselves. They’re going to be wilder than any of the players will be. I’m sure they’ll have things to do – a few Mimosas and a few drinks by the pool hopefully.”
O’Brien said the league has strict rules on such trips, limiting them to once a year, for only two nights of hotels and two games on the road.
“We’ve always done dads trips so we wanted to try this,” he said, also denying the timing was all part of a grander scheme. “Total coincidence. If you look at the schedule, there weren’t many trips that worked. The only ones that worked were at the start of the season and then too close to Christmas.”
Indeed, everyone’s got a Vegas story. And that’s the one the Flames are sticking to.