Light up the cigars, toast to the new father. Again.
Braden Holtby this week was the fourth Washington Capitals player to become a first-time father, joining Matt Hendricks, Jeff Halpern and Keith Aucoin.
“It’s great. When I had Brayden, they were awesome, [teammates] were really supportive, they all congratulate you, and it’s not even just them, it’s all the wives and girlfriends,” Aucoin said. “When we’re on the road they come over and help out as much as they can. So it’s not just the guys in the locker room, it’s the families that help when you’re on the road so it’s both the guys and the wives and the girlfriends that are a great help.”
That kind of support was evident in text messages Karl Alzner and others sent Holtby Thursday after learning of Benjamin Hunter’s birth, and in handshakes, like the one Brooks Laich gave the 22-year-old goaltender at the rink Friday morning.
Asked what kind of advice he’d give the young father, Matt Hendricks’ was about compartmentalizing.
“It’s obviously a very important time for him and a great time,” said Hendricks, whose wife had twins Gunnar and Lennon in November. “You just got to put it behind you now and focus on the game, on hockey. It’s hard to do. But with him, he got to be around all day yesterday and now he’s going to sleep in the hotel tonight. He’ll be focused … I’m not worried about it.”
The timing, planned by Holtby and his fiancee, Brandi Bodnar, worked well on a day off with plenty of time before Saturday night’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Rangers.
“They planned it on a good day, on a day off, where he could just get away and enjoy it,” said Aucoin, whose wife Maureen gave birth to Brayden Michael on an off-day Feb. 29. “I guess the best part is now he can go on the road and get some rest and not have to worry about waking up in the middle of the night. So it’s a great experience, and I’m sure he’s going to enjoy it.”