Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Blues looking to remain perfect with dads on the road

Players' fathers accompanied team on trip to Boston, Buffalo looking to build on 
4-0-0 record; Sundqvist sent to San Antonio, Walman reassigned to Binghamton

BOSTON -- Alex Pietrangelo knows what the record is. Just don't bring up when the Blues have done when they've brought their dads on road trips.

"I'm not going to talk about it," Pietrangelo said with a grin. "Don't even bring it up. Don't bring up the record. 

"I know the record, but I'm not even going to say it."

Perhaps the captain doesn't want to jinx it, but the Blues, who embark on a two-game trip to Boston on Thursday and Buffalo on Saturday that includes a dad's trip for the third time in the past four seasons, will put their 4-0-0 mark on the line.

There's something about having dads around that brings out the best in the players, and it should. But the Blues, who won in Carolina and Washington in 2015 and Tampa and Florida in 2016 (they didn't have one last season for scheduling reasons) rightfully have some extra juice when dads are around.

"We're excited to have the opportunity to show our dads what we go through on the road trips," said defenseman Colton Parayko, whose father Tom Parayko will make his second trip. "It's exciting for us and really exciting for them. A lot of them have never had the chance to see or do the things that we get to do. We're looking forward to it and they kind of get a taste of what we do for our road trips and the best part of it is we get to spend some time with our dads.

"It's going to be a fun trip. Boston's going to be a good test, Buffalo works hard, they're going to be a good test. It's never easy winning on the road. Both games are gonna be tough. We're excited. We're confident, but we know we've got to play hard. They'll be watching us. ... It's kind of cool for us to feed off that energy and that hype for sure."

Yes, they will be watching.

"It's special, you know," said defenseman Joel Edmundson, whose father Bob Edmundson is on the trip. "When we were young kids, they were taking us to the rink every morning and now they can see us in the NHL, they come on the charter plane with us, they get to experience all the NHL lifestyle ... the dads have a great time and they seem to be good luck for us. We always keep on winning, so hopefully that continues."

"It's awesome," said center Kyle Brodziak, whose step-father Brian Soldan will accompany Brodziak. "It starts (today) when the dads will be around the rink for a practice and then jumping on the airplane and getting to a city. Usually guys will go to dinner to have the dads join that. Just to be a part of the routine, for them to get to see exactly how we live our lives for a few days, to feel a part of it is pretty cool.

"Guys are excited. Your dads are up in the stands. I know everybody wants to make their dads proud. It's just a cool experience and everyone just enjoys it quite a bit."

As soon as the players informed the dads of when and where another trip will take place, these dads were all on board.

"It's amazing," said Pietrangelo, whose father Joe is meeting the team in Boston. "Even seeing them up there [Tuesday] morning. You walk in in the morning and the dads sitting there having breakfast, it's pretty darn cool. You start seeing the similarities in the kids and the dads, right? That's the fun part. It's a special trip. I know all of us look forward to it. The dads talk about it all year. The camaraderie amongst them and for us to be able to walk in and say hi to someone's dad knowing we met them before, it makes them feel more comfortable coming in here. It's a fun trip for everybody.

"If you talk to all the dads, they look forward to it. It's no different than you getting together with a bunch of buddies and watch some hockey. For them, it's fun and I guess whenever the trend started, it was a good trend because it goes a long way. Those guys put a lot of effort and time into geting us to where we are."

While it's a business trip for the players, it's a fun and proud moment for the dads, especially Brayden Schenn's dad Jeff Schenn, who accompanied Brayden to the All-Star weekend in Tampa, came to St. Louis for this trip, will leave Boston to join older son and Arizona Coyotes defenseman Luke Schenn in Los Angeles Saturday for their dad's trip before returning home to Saskatoon.

"The dads have a great time together," Edmundson said. "Once we go to bed at night, they go out and have some drinks and they find their own fun. We do lots of team meals with the dads just to get them all together. It's just like a big family, everyone is having a good time."

A list of Blues players and dads/stepdads/father-in-laws/mentors accompanying them on the trip: Jake Allen (Kurt Allen), Patrik Berglund (Anders Berglund), Robert Bortuzzo (Oscar Bortuzzo), Kyle Brodziak (Brian Soldan), Jay Bouwmeester (Dan Bouwmeester), Vince Dunn (John Dunn), Joel Edmundson (Bob Edmundson), Carl Gunnarsson (Bjorn Gunnarsson), Carter Hutton (Jack Hutton), Dmitrij Jaskin (Alexej Jaskin), Alex Pietrangelo (Joe Pietrangelo), Brayden Schenn (Jeff Schenn), Zach Sanford (Michael Sanford), Paul Stastny (Burt Fowler), Alexander Steen (Thomas Steen), Chris Thorburn (Mark Thorburn), Colton Parayko (Tom Parayko), Jaden Schwartz (Rick Schwartz), Vladimir Tarasenko (Andrei Tarasenko) and Scottie Upshall (Scott Upshall). Tage Thompson was hopeful that his dad Brent Thompson, coach of the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers, could make it in for the game against the Bruins Thursday depending on the team's schedule.

* NOTES -- The Blues announced Wednesday they have assigned center Oskar Sundqvist to San Antonio of the American Hockey League and reassigned defenseman Jake Walman to Binghamton of the AHL from Chicago.

Sundqvist has been a healthy scratch the past six games and 12 of the past 13 games; he's played in 30 games and has three assists. He's off to San Antonio on a conditioning stint.

Sundqvist was acquired on June 23, 2017 at the NHL Draft along with a first round pick (Klim Kostin) from the Pittsburgh Penguins for Ryan Reaves.

Walman has played in 40 games for the Wolves this season and had 13 points (two goals, 11 assists). He was recalled by the Blues for games on Jan. 6-7 when Vince Dunn was out with flu-like symptoms.

Binghamton is the affiliate of the New Jersey Devils.

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