Diaper duty and kid chauffeur, home life doesn’t halt in NHL post-season

Home life doesn't halt in the NHL playoffs

CALGARY — Crying kids and household chores don’t stop for NHL players in the post-season.

But a few players who were asked if they’d rather stay in a hotel during the home end of their playoff series — a practice some teams have done over the years — said they’d prefer to be in their own houses.

“Personally, I’m not a fan of staying in a hotel,” Ottawa Senators forward Tommy Wingels said.

“I like being at home and being around my wife and daughter. After thinking about nothing but hockey, it’s kind of a nice distraction, not that they’re a distraction if you know what I mean, but just to focus on something else.

“My wife is there for me all season and she supports me when things are going well, or not so well, so I just enjoy being around them. I want to share the playoff experience with them. I know it’s not the same for some guys, but it’s definitely my preference.”

During the Chicago Blackhawks’ run to the Stanley Cup in 2010, hotel rooms were available during home games, said former Hawks forward Troy Brouwer, who is now a Calgary Flame.

“Because there were so many people in town and so many people around, we put ourselves (in a hotel) not the night of, but the day of games,” Brouwer explained.

“We came to practice in the morning, then you hopped on a bus and went to your hotel for your pre-game meal and pre-game nap, so you didn’t have any distractions during the day. In our run last year in St. Louis, that’s what we did as well during the day.

“Every team I think for the most part offers hotels if you would prefer them, if you have people in town or distractions.

“I think most of the guys feel comfortable at home being in their own bed. Part of what being at home is, is being with your family and enjoying home-cooked meals and being around your loved ones.

“You don’t want to take that comfort level away.”

Family and close friends usually know playoffs is the most important time in a player’s career and will give him space. That cocoon doesn’t always extend to childcare, however. 

“Maybe a little bit more lenient in some cases, yeah, but no free passes,” Brouwer said. “First and foremost, I’m still a dad.”

Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan said earlier this week he drove his 12-year-old son to football practice at 6 a.m. the morning after an overtime game.

Home life actually provides a counterbalance to the intense, fishbowl environment of playoff hockey, says Senators forward Clarke MacArthur.

“I kind of like being at the rink on an off day and focusing on just the game and then going to pick my daughter up from school and getting away from it for a bit,” MacArthur said.

“I’ve never gone on a long playoff run so maybe then I would want to stay in a hotel, but I don’t know. It might be a good way to get out of taking the garbage out though.”

— Lisa Wallace contributed to this story.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press