BROSSARD – After practicing at the Bell Sports Complex Friday morning, the Habs will pack up their bags and head for the Midwest. Sharing the plane ride with them will be some very special guests.
“It’ll definitely be cool to have my pops on the road,” exclaimed P.K. Subban, whose father, Karl, will be sitting alongside him for the Canadiens’ two-game roadtrip. For the first time ever, the team has organized a father-and-son weekend, and invited all the players’ fathers to experience the NHL lifestyle for themselves. As P.K. explained, one member of the family will want Subban Sr. to be kept on a short leash.
“He retired this year, so I’m sure he’s anxious to get out of the house. I told him that we’d better get him home by Sunday; my mom doesn’t like it when he strays too far,” chuckled last year’s Norris Trophy recipient.
One man who is already familiar with the pro hockey grind is Alex Galchenyuk’s father. Alexander Sr., a former minor league pro and Belarusian national team member, will be riding shotgun with his son as well this weekend. While the elder Galchenyuk’s long hockey career took him to top leagues in Russia, Italy, Switzerland as well as the North American IHL, he, too, is eagerly awaiting the commencement of the trip.
“My father’s been preparing for the trip since he got the email, which was two weeks ago,” related the Habs sophomore. “He’s all packed up and ready to go.”
While the 2013-14 season marks No. 27’s second year in the NHL, this is only the first time in Canadiens franchise history that an official father-son trip has been organized by the team.
“It’s great, I’ve never been on a trip like this before. It’s nice that the organization allows us to give back to our dads, since they’ve helped us so much,” affirmed Galchenyuk, who first skated under the guidance of his father as an 18-month-old toddler.
During morning practice, the 20-plus patriarchs traveling with the team found themselves in a familiar spot, sitting in the bleachers in a cold rink watching their pride and joys chase the puck up and down the ice. As a father himself, head coach Michel Therrien can appreciate everything these men have done for their children.
“[This trip] is well-deserved. The fathers have made lots of sacrifices for their kids, bringing them to practice and showing up to games. It’s great to give the dads a chance to be with their sons. This is going to be a special weekend for everyone,” acknowledged Therrien.
As much as he respects the contributions these men have made, however, the head coach will be keeping a lookout for rule-breakers in the gang.
“I’ll have to check on the dads to make sure they make curfew. I speak from experience,” chuckled the Canadiens’ bench boss, who also confirmed that George Parros will be in the lineup against the Wild and Carey Price will get the start in goal in Minnesota.
Thursday was a special day for Alexei Emelin as well. Not only did he practice with his teammates for the first time this season, but he also learned that he will be with the team for the foreseeable future, having agreed to a four-year contract extension with the Canadiens.
“It’s a good day for me. I’m very happy to be staying in Montreal for a while. This is an excellent team, I like playing here and my family loves the city,” affirmed the 27 year-old blue-liner, who added that he will be making a return to game action in the coming weeks.
Emelin has been benefiting from the guidance of compatriot Andrei Markov, who battled a few injury woes of his own before making a successful return to the top of the Habs’ depth chart.
“Markov has helped me a lot. I asked him for his advice on exercises to do and my rehab. I think I’ll be able to come back around mid-November,” Emelin confirmed.
Jack Han is a writer for canadiens.com.
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