The Kings’ traveling party grew by 16 today, as the team had its first-ever “fathers’ trip.” I’m not sure which team was the first to do this, but it’s a really nice gesture, in which teams invite players’ fathers to fly on the team plane to a visiting city (or cities), have a big dinner and allow them to visit with their sons and watch them play. The fathers will stay in town to watch the Kings play Thursday at Staples Center.
Sixteen of the Kings’ fathers are on the trip, and right now everyone is getting ready to head to dinner in Arizona. Perhaps nobody had a stranger trip than Randy Jones’ dad, Butch, who was in Hawaii for a relative’s wedding when Jones got the call that he had been claimed off waivers by the Kings. Shortly after, Jones found out about the fathers’ trip.
“They [Jones’ parents] were there for about two weeks,” Jones said, “and actually on Friday they were about to head home to Canada. They got the word that there was a father-son trip, so they just redirected their flight to here. Just extended their vacation a little bit.”
Here’s what Dean Lombardi said today about the new tradition, and why the Kings chose this year to start it…
LOMBARDI: “You know what I think is pretty neat about it — obviously the relationship with the father and the son — it almost reminds you of why you started playing this game. That’s what kind of comes out. A lot of times, these fathers are the ones that drove them to the rink when they were kids, and froze their whatever at 5 in the morning. It’s pretty neat, from that perspective. I think that’s the feel that rekindles when you’re with your father in that setting. That’s the thing that comes first and foremost to me, is that it reminds you of why you started playing hockey in the first place. It puts those other values back in place.
“This is kind of the first year we’ve got continuity. Guys are more familiar and there’s goin gto be more and more continuity. It’s another part of team building, trying to create that family atmosphere from a team perspective. It would have been awfully hard to do that in the first two or three years. We had players going in and out. Now they’re starting to get a feel for that jersey. I think it’s the first year it kind of fits.”
Lombardi explained that trips such as this one have to get league approval, because — in a somewhat cynical sense — they could be seen as “extra benefits” for players. Sounds weird, but Lombardi said he understands.
Finally, maybe this is good news for the Coyotes, since it assures them of at least 16 fans in their building tomorrow night.