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Capitals Dads Talk Paternity, NHL and Child Balance

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WASHINGTON — On New Year’s Eve 2019, the Washington Capitals attended a home game against the New York Islanders.Nick Dowd, who was on the roster, went missing during warm-up and en route to the hospital, where he and his wife Paige picked up his eldest son Louis at 8:18 p.m.

And looking back on that night three years later, Dowd said that the greatest achievement of his life was his son, and seeing him behind the glass during a game or in the locker room during practice took him on and off the ice. I can confidently say that I have changed both.

“It’s worth your whole career up to that point,” Dowd said. “You’re really proud of that. When I was a kid, I used to watch guys take their kids to the rink.?’ Seems like the coolest thing ever. I look forward to it every time I know he’s coming…how many people can share it?”

(Photo credit: Washington Capitals)

Dowd is a growing group that includes teammates Garnet Hathaway, Dylan Strom, Conor Sheary, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, TJ Osier and Anthony Mansa, who just welcomed his first child, Naomi. One of the Capitals’ fathers. Balancing the workload of the NHL with the ever-changing demands of the league and being a father is a difficult task, but there is no other way.

“Unbelievable,” said Hathaway, father of 17-month-old Luke. “When I was younger in the league, seeing players come to the game with their children, they enjoyed it. It takes a lot of effort to get in, but that’s a lot of support from your family and it’s great to be able to share that with our wives and girlfriends, the family when they came, and the kids. is.

Luke is still learning what hockey is and doesn’t yet understand what his father does for a living, but Hathaway said his son loved the hockey experience and fortunately , says staying away for an extended period of time wasn’t something they had to do.

“He’s picking up a hockey stick and swinging it around and punching me in the face and it’s gonna be fun…just enjoy this league, enjoy this job, enjoy this team and share it with him. I’ve been able to bring him here and take him out on the ice a few times and he loves it,” Hathaway said. “He still plays hockey. can’t tell you what he likes but you can see the excitement on his face that’s hockey just share it he doesn’t know if i’m home or not We don’t know yet, but he enjoys coming to the rink.”

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For other fathers like Strome, his 18-month-old daughter Weslie is starting to understand that her father is a full-time NHL player. To help her understand her time away from her and her home, he made a custom book for her called “Daddy Goes to Work.”

“We have a little book in our house about my job, and she says ‘dad’ every time she sees hockey on TV,” Strome says. “She kind of understands that when I leave the house, I’m usually on a skating rink or on a plane. She likes planes, so I tell her about it. It’s great to see.” ”

“I don’t think it’s any different than someone with a regular job who has to travel for work,” added Shareley, who has a 20-month-old daughter named Mila and another baby on the way. “It’s hard to leave a child, even when you don’t know what’s going on. It’s hard to go to practices or games or anything. That I’m not leaving her, I’m working.” It’s probably the most important thing to let her know you’re there.”

Matt Irwin, who hasn’t been in the line-up much but is a regular when it comes to long road trips and daily practices, said the concept was somewhat difficult to explain to children. , daughter Lennon is six months old.

“That’s what we really had to work with. They have no idea how long 10 days or 2 nights is. It just seems like a long time in their head,” says Irwin. “You know, most of that is down to my wife. We’re working on it, and the more he understands hockey, the more this is what I do. That’s what I do.” It’s all part of it.

“[Beckem] If I don’t have to drive to the airport, I want to come anytime. He wants to pick me up, but it’s usually too late. But sometimes you let it slip,” Irwin explained. “He’ll get some sleep and then my wife will pick them up or wake them up and he’ll come. It’s the same as hanging out, playing with mini sticks, etc. and then taking them home immediately.”

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Of course, players have to pay the price too. With a busy schedule away from home, players often miss big milestones and parts of their childhood, like learning new words, improving their test scores, or discovering new talents. It often happens. That’s where technology comes in.

“You’ll find some changes. He’s grown, he’s changed. If you see him every day, you won’t notice much difference. But if you go on a trip for 10 days or so, he’s a different person.” Right?” said Dmitry Orlov, who has a three-year-old son named Kirill. “He always gives you something new…you couldn’t see the old days and it’s long gone, but it’s a different world. can lead to.”

Erik Gustafsson agreed, speaking on the phone is a way to keep his family connected, which consists of him, his wife and three children, Jamie, 5, Cecile, 3, and Lusie, 6 months. said you can do something on the go while being helpful. .

“Thanks to FaceTime, I try to talk on the phone as much as possible,” Gustafsson said. “Long road trips are tough when they’re in school too. It’s when you have little ones at home and you see how they grow. It’s happening. And it’s always nice to be home, but it sure is to be away.

“It’s harder on the wives, isn’t it? They just want to be with me all the time, right? She’s doing all this stuff for the kids, but when I get home.” , Dad.” But when I come back from my trip, it’s still the best. Children are always happy, even with bad driving trips and bad games. ”

After all, sharing the games they love and having kids number one fans makes every moment worthwhile. Ovechkin teaches his son Sergei how to play, and Backstrom and Carlson’s children also play his youth hockey. Irwin’s son Beckem skates and learns from his father, and No. 52 also says Beckem is his number one fan.

“He’s pretty funny with it. My role is, I don’t play every night, so he’s excited to see the game, and then he’s looking around. I tell him before if I do or not. He said, ‘Dad, you’ll be fine next time,'” Irwin laughed. “He’s always been pretty good at it. , he loves it, he’s glued to it, he loves watching it, he loves playing it himself, it’s fun to watch.

“He likes coming to the rink in the summer. He’s skating while I’m skating. It’s all fun,” said Irwin. “Hopefully he’s a little more skilled [than me]. it doesn’t matter. He’s right-handed, so I’m not sure he wants to be on the defensive. He likes to score goals – or so he thinks – let’s see how it goes.”

Hathaway hasn’t got Luke on the ice yet, but he’s hinted that some gear is coming to him for Christmas.

“He seems to get excited about anything. Of course, hockey is something I really enjoy and love, so if he grows up and likes it, that’s great,” Hathaway said. “But I just want him to find something he loves.”

Orloff also emphasized how important it is to let his son live his life and pursue his own interests, but sometimes he gets excited when he picks up a hockey stick.

“When he grows up every year, he realizes more life, more experiences. “He’s got some sticks and I think he’ll definitely try at some point. I just don’t want to push him for that. Make sure he gets the life of a kid.” He’s got some toys and cars, and he’s into cars and dinosaurs right now. Those are his two favorite things right now.”

After all, Dowd says being a father has smashed other milestones, and all the Capitals fathers in the dressing room would say the same. is. But for players, seeing their kids behind the glass wearing ‘daddy’ jerseys with numbers on the back and reuniting with them after a long road trip is also a sight to see. It taught me one lesson. Family is everything.

“They say they can escape the game. And there’s no better feeling than waking up the next morning after returning from a long road trip to see your child for the first time after a long road trip and opening that door.” All of that will be gone,” Dowd said. “You just I know he is very much looking forward to meeting you. It’s the only thing in the whole world that you care about. Having kids and sharing this with them is special. ”

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