Senators notebook: Parental supervision on Florida trip

Just as the weather in Ottawa is starting to get cooler, the Ottawa Senators are heading off on their annual father-son trip, a two-game swing to Florida that will see them play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday and the Florida Panthers on Wednesday.

Just as the weather in Ottawa is starting to cool, the Ottawa Senators are heading off on their annual father-son trip, a two-game swing to Florida to play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday and the Florida Panthers on Wednesday.

Most of the dads are accounted for this season. They were in town for Saturday’s game against the Oilers and will leave with the team Sunday, and the Senators will practise in Tampa on Monday.

The trip is as special for the players as it is for the fathers.

“It’s not just another road trip,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said Saturday.

“I think any time you can bring your dad along and show him what you do and let him be part of it, it’s an opportunity to thank them for the countless hours they put in.

“I think the mothers get a little short-changed in these trips.

“But any time you can spend time with your dad doing something that more than likely you both love and enjoy, no matter how the games end up, I think it’s a great life opportunity for our players.”

Asked if the gender inequity should be addressed by having a mother-son trip, MacLean hemmed and then iced the puck.

“Next question,” he said.

Some National Hockey League teams have closed the gender gap by taking players’ mothers on a trip, including the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Canucks, and, this season, the Oilers.

The Edmonton mothers, who went to Phoenix in November, lobbied for that trip after the fathers went on a California trip last season.

“I think the guys really loved it,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said Saturday.

“We had the fathers last year, and to have their mothers this year made it really special for them, and it sort of made it equitable at home, which is good. No problems there.

“The big thing is that you don’t want it to become a distraction, and the parents understand that this is the National Hockey League, and they do a real good job of staying out of the way, but of enjoying themselves.

“And the guys appreciate that the organization has taken that step to allow their parents to be there because they know they didn’t get here by themselves.”

Coaches’ helmets?

Renney didn’t want to open the debate of whether coaches should wear helmets during practices, but at the very least he’ll be a lot more careful after getting hit in the head by a puck during Monday’s morning skate in Toronto.

He missed that game with a mild concussion and also Tuesday’s practice in Detroit, but returned to coach against the Red Wings on Wednesday night.

He said he was feeling a lot better Saturday, and he had a deeper understanding of what players with concussions went through.

Winchester improves

Senators forward Jesse Winchester, out since receiving a concussion in late December, watched Saturday’s game from the press box. He won’t make the trip to Florida, but is expected to begin skating again next week.

He’s still a considerable way from returning to the lineup, but said he was beginning to feel better.

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