PITTSBURGH – They came from Finland, Russia, Sweden, and from all parts of Canada for a chance to bond with their sons and to get an up-close look at a typical day in the life of an NHL player.
The Flyers held their annual father-son trip, and it took them to PPG Paints Arena for Monday's game in Pittsburgh. The dads also went to Heinz Field on Sunday night and watched the Steelers outlast the Green Bay Packers.
A total of 14 fathers made the trip, including three who traveled from another continent: Vladimir Provorov (Ivan's dad, from Russia); Peter Hagg (Robert's dad, from Sweden); and Pertti Lehtera (Jori's dad, from Finland). They attended meetings with their sons, ate meals together, and got to just hang out.
The fathers have also created a bond with one another.
"It's fantastic to see all the guys; you know a few of them more and more each year, and it's always fun to see your son play hockey," said Craig Laughton, whose son, Scott, is the Flyers' fourth-line center.
"It's amazing to be here and see the people under the helmet," said Peter Hagg, who made his initial father-son trek. "They're all regular guys and it's wonderful to see, and it was my first football game [Sunday] and that was amazing, too."
Kent Sanheim's son, Travis, like Robert Hagg, is a rookie defenseman with the Flyers.
"It's great to get a handle on what they do on a daily basis," said Kent Sanheim, who runs a 1,600-acre grain farm in western Manitoba and is also involved in the oil business.
"As a father, you kind of know, but you never get a chance to see it. It's a full-time job for them — right from the first thing in the morning, hockey is all they're thinking about and their preparation to play the game."
Travis Sanheim and his teammates said their parents made lots of sacrifices during their younger years to drive them back and forth to practices and make sure they had the proper equipment to play hockey.
"I lived on a farm and just getting me to my local rink [was a job], and I was pretty much on the ice every day," Sanhiem said.
Ivan Provorov's dad was on his first father-son trip.
"It means a lot to have him here," the second-year defenseman said. "He's helped me a lot with everything in hockey and life."
Other fathers on the trip: Tim Leier, Rob Konecny, Bill Elliott, Cyril Simmonds, Leroy Manning, Sylvain Couturier, Robert MacDonald, Ray Giroux, and Kelly Weal.