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Wings take dads on 'Thank you' trip

The two-game journey is highlight of players' season

Sunday, 02.17.2013 / 9:57 AM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Wings take dads on \'Thank you\' trip
The Red Wings' dads and mentors have traveled with their sons from Los Angeles to New York, and every NHL city in between. This year's trip began in St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday and finishes in Nashville on Tuesday.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Asked if his father was on the Red Wings’ annual fathers/mentors road trip, Jordin Tootoo weaved a pretty believable tale that included a dozen dogs and a sled.

See, Tootoo grew up near an old nickel mine in the Inuit hamlet of Rankin Inlet on the northwestern edge of Hudson Bay, about 240 miles south of the Arctic Circle.

So when he said that his dad was on the trip, Tootoo couldn’t pass on the chance to string along a few gullible reporters, telling them of his dad’s harrowing week-long junket by dog sled just to get to civilization where he could catch a flight to Detroit.

“Only eight dogs made it,” said Tootoo, who barely got the words out before cracking a smile.

“How’d you like that story?” he said, laughing.

It was believable.

Barney Tootoo taught his son to live off the land, to build shelter from blocks of glacier and to hunt for food. He taught him to be independent, to ignore pain, and to shun fear. So it was believable to think that travel from the treeless, endless white permafrost would be equally challenging.

What wasn’t to believe?

But all joking aside, the Tootoos look forward to the annual trip, and have every year since Jordin began playing in the NHL with the Nashville Predators.

Naturally, Barney Tootoo also introduced his son to hockey.

“He was a little shifty around the net more than he was (at) dropping the gloves,” Jordin said, of his dad. “My mom likes the more physical stuff. She’s the one that created all of the physical part (of me) when I was growing up. It’s all good. It’s a balance.”

This week’s trip is Jordin’s first with his new club, which got underway Saturday in Minnesota, where the Red Wings will face-off against the Wild at XCEL Energy Center on Sunday.

“Obviously everything has been different here, not only for myself, but I think a lot of people around here,” Tootoo said. “Obviously, my dad is excited to meet a lot of the other dads and the players.”

For Tootoo, the trip is a way for him and other players to show their gratitude to their dads, or in some cases, other men who mentored them.

“Our parents have been there through thick and thin and this is kind of a ‘thank you’ to them for showing us the ropes,” he said. “And now it’s kind of our turn to show them what we kind of do on a daily basis.

“I also think it’s a great opportunity for all of our fathers to reflect on their kid’s pasts, reminisce and have a good time with each other.”

Justin Abdelkader, Daniel Cleary, Carlo Colaiaicovo, Cory Emmerton, Jonathan Ericsson, Darren Helm, Jimmy Howard, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall, Drew Miller, Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith, and Henrik Zetterberg are among the players, coaches and training staff hosting their dads, brothers, friends and mentors on the two-game trip, which concludes Tuesday in Nashville.

With the lockout shortened schedule and games being played every other day, it would have been easy for the Wings to eliminate this year’s trip. But coach Mike Babcock wouldn’t hear of it.

“This is one of the things we do, so why wouldn’t we have it?” he said. “The dad’s didn’t plan the lockout, they had nothing to do with. We like having them. It’s a great thing to do. … We’ve been doing it ever since I’ve come here. It’s lots of fun.”

However, not every player has someone on this four-day journey. But it wasn’t all that bad for Damien Brunner, whose parents returned to Switzerland after spending a week with their oldest son.

“They enjoyed it. It’s been awesome,” said Brunner, of his parents’ visit. “We spent a lot of time together. They were impressed with the arena and all the other stuff around the Red Wings.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80