TORONTO — Pontus Aberg’s three-year-old daughter Molly has been asking him to take her skating ever since the snow started flying. So when his call back to the NHL first rang through on Thursday night he didn’t hear the phone going in his pocket.
A second attempt from Laurence Gilman, the Toronto Maple Leafs assistant general manager, reached him while on the outdoor ice at Harbourfront Centre with Molly — only fitting for a single parent who is always trying to strike a balance between his two loves.
“That’s pretty much my life,” Aberg said Friday. “It’s her and hockey.”
Of course, this particular call arrived both with good news and some complications.
The Leafs are heading out for a nine-day road trip that will take them through St. Louis, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Aberg had been expecting to be home this weekend for a pair of games in the American Hockey League and immediately had to pack.
As for Molly’s care, he’s in good hands.
This is the second straight season the Swede has had his mother, Annethe, living with him in North America to step in when his unique job demands require it.
“She’s helping out when I’m on the road and when I have to sleep in and nap,” said Aberg. “So, it’s working really well.”
Part of the allure for him in signing with Toronto over the summer was stability. The Leafs showed more interest than rival teams — offering him a $700,000, one-way contract — but they could also guarantee he’d live in the same apartment whether he cracked the NHL roster or not because only two kilometres separates Scotiabank Arena from where the Marlies play.
Since Molly’s birth, the 26-year-old winger has skated with Nashville, Milwaukee, Edmonton, Anaheim, San Diego and Minnesota. Last January, he was traded from the Ducks to the Wild and that was a particularly tough move for his daughter.
“From plus-15 to 20 [Celsius] to minus-30 in a flight was something that Molly didn’t take very well,” he said.
She’s since learned to love the snow and their new home in Canada’s largest city. One of Aberg’s favourite pastimes away from the rink is documenting their adventures together and a quick glimpse at his Instagram feed shows that Molly is clearly the apple of his eye.