• By: Dave Gross

Spirits lifted for Senators during dads’ trip

Photo courtesy NHLI via Getty Images

I imagine if my dad was watching, I’d work at about the same level.

In this grim swamp of a season for the Ottawa Senators, this past week presented a rare light and positive look.

The dads’ trip.

As far as I know, most National Hockey League teams do the same thing – invite all the player’s fathers along for a road swing.

And as we saw this week, even if the team said fathers are following is trying to stay afloat in a dismal season, the results are simply . . . good.

“Coming here, sitting in the stands and watching your kid play is a pretty amazing feeling,” Brady Tkachuk’s pop Keith said on the road in Carolina this past weekend to Postmedia. “It’s great to get to know the other dads that you never would have met until a trip like this, when you get to know them and see what they’re like.

“For me, it means a lot to see the other fathers experience that, by being at an NHL rink, going to meetings, eating with the boys and just coming here and enjoying watching them play.”

Keith is likely used to this sort of thing by now – as a player and a dad.

Tkachuk (senior) skated in more than 1,200 games as a pro. As well, as mentioned in this space last week, Keith has another lad in the NHL – Calgary’s exceptional Matthew Tkachuk.

Sure doesn’t hurt to join the other fathers when you’re son is having such an impact before the age of 20.The trip also acted as a bit of a remedy-medication for the spirits of one of Ottawa’s fourth-line players, Magnus Paajarvi.

The much-maligned former first-rounder picked up his game as his dad looked on – even scoring a goal in Carolina in a rare Ottawa victory.

“We just want to make them proud,” Paajarvi said to Postmedia regarding the parents. “They don’t get, especially the European dads, the chance to get over (here) that much. I’m just going to give (his dad) a hug and move on to St. Louis.”

How rare was that Ottawa win?

Well, in Carolina it was the first regulation victory for the Senators organization in 11 years.

Proud parenting?


Notes and notions: Can’t see any scenario where Christian Wolanin is sent back the American Hockey League. He’s been that good for Ottawa this past stretch . . . Small world? Watching the Winnipeg/Dallas game Saturday night and who’s calling the shots? My buddy and co-worker from the late 1980s, Kevin Quinn (Scarboro Cable TV) and colour man Garry Galley who I co-hosted with on radio (TEAM 1200) for three years in the early 2000s. Two superb individuals . . . Count me in as a large fan of TSN Weekend. The three hosts (Steve Bunda, Graham Creech and Lee Versage) do their research and do their prep work . . . Also really enjoy Battle of the Atlantic: “Callum Fraser of TSN 1200, Marc Dumont of The Athletic Montreal and Alec Brownscombe of Maple Leaf HotStove take a weekly tour of the Sens, Habs and Leafs” . . . The trade deadline is still some 30+ days away and the chatter is relentless (see final note below). Unlike many, I relish the hype. It’s kind of a sports fan’s version of an afternoon soap opera . . . If I am buying a ticket to see any team, let me in on the Habs. Always entertaining, win or lose . . . I’ve seen nothing this season to dissuade me from circling Mark Scheifele as a player to try to watch as much as possible. The former Barrie Colt, now Winnipeg Jet, is simply sensational and a guy built for the playoffs . . . Excuse the redundancy, again and again, but if Toronto doesn’t do some serious work at the trade deadline, this could be a nightmare come playoff time. This club needs character and toughness . . . Our (the royal ‘our’) still holds Tampa in great favour as being the Stanley Cup champs. We picked them during the pre-season . . . Ottawa is off for a looooooong stretch with the all-star break and bye week. Maybe a good time to fashion a trade or two . . . or three?

Senators week ahead:

Tuesday, Jan. 22: Arizona at Ottawa

(All-Star break; All-Star game: Jan. 27 at San Jose)