Matt Niskanen was one of many Washington Capitals to bring their families onboard a Stanley Cup parade bus on Tuesday. Cameras captured Niskanen celebrating with his 2-year-old son.
Reflecting on the moment the next day, Niskanen was happy to see pictures of him with his son.
“You don’t get to be as dedicated as a dad as you normally do during the playoffs,” Niskanen said. “My kid’s getting to the age now where he starts to miss me when I’m away from home, so it’s been fun to be with him a lot more the last four, five days.”
It’s fitting that the first holiday on the calendar after the Capitals’ Stanley Cup victory is Father’s Day. Many Capitals players have young families, and Alex Ovechkin will become the newest father on the team later this year.
Ovechkin’s wife, Nastya Ovechkina, is pregnant with the couple’s first child, news that was officially revealed after the Stanley Cup-clinching Game 5 win.
The husband and wife know the gender of the baby but are keeping that information to themselves.
“It’s the best feeling ever,” Ovechkin said.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz, himself a father of four, believes fatherhood will be good for Ovechkin without “mellowing” him.
“Emotionally you’re gonna see his personality and all that, but I think you’re gonna see the understanding (that) now you have a child, it’s taking care of someone else,” Trotz said. “That’s sort of the torch that your parents handed over to you, and now he’s got the torch and he’s gonna raise his child with his wife and it’s gonna be good.”
Trotz felt the team’s core of veterans have taken on a “fatherly” role in recent years, growing professionally along with many of them growing personally and starting families.
The most recent addition to the Capitals family was John and Gina Carlson’s second son, Rudy, who was born in early May during the Pittsburgh Penguins playoff series. John Carlson shrugged off whether this Sunday would be any more special to him this year.
“I think about Mother’s Day, not Father’s Day,” Carlson quipped.
Niskanen was contemplating having a fish fry for Father’s Day.
“I deep-fried some walleye last year and (his son) liked it, so that was good news,” Niskanen said. “It made me happy.”
And T.J. Oshie will be taking a vacation with his wife, Lauren, and their daughters, Lyla and Leni. They depart the day after Father’s Day, but Oshie made it sound like the trip wasn’t necessarily about himself.
“They’ve sacrificed a lot, more so this playoffs than ever because one, it went a lot longer, and two, because it just seemed like for whatever reason this year, everyone was focused on winning and we were kind of on a mission there,” Oshie said. “It takes a toll on them, and it’s gonna be nice to try to repay them for the sacrifices they’ve made through really my whole career, but especially this last couple months.”
While many players are fathers, all of them are sons, too. One of the most memorable moments after the Capitals clinched the Stanley Cup last week was when Oshie spoke about his father, Tim, who is battling Alzheimer’s.
“He doesn’t remember a lot of stuff these days,” Oshie said that night, fighting through tears while live on NBC. “He remembers enough. But I’ll tell you what, he’s here tonight — I don’t know where he’s at — but this one will stick with him forever. You can guarantee that.”