SAN JOSE — All-Star Weekend is a time for NHL players to relax, have some fun and enjoy the festivities with their families. Johnny Gaudreau’s three days in San Jose was extra special because standing behind him on the Pacific Division’s bench Saturday night was his dad Guy.
After Friday’s All-Star Skills, which saw the Calgary Flames forward win his second straight Puck Control event, a fun idea was hatched during a conversation between Guy Gaudreau and Bill Peters, who coached the Pacific Division: What if Johnny Hockey’s dad served as one of Peters’ assistants for the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament?
After getting league approval, the move was official and Guy Gaudreau was behind the bench watching his son play in his fifth NHL All-Star Game.
“I thought he was joking,” Guy said. “He wasn’t joking. So here I am.”
“It was awesome,” said Johnny Gaudreau. “He’s done so much for me growing up with hockey, coaching me [for a decade] when I was younger, to have him out there with me was pretty special.”
The Pacific didn’t fare so well, losing their game 10-4 to the Central Division, but Guy got to see his son score as he became more involved in the action with his coaching duties.
“He might’ve given Bill a few pointers,” joked Johnny Gaudreau. “He was quiet at first for a little bit, but I think he hates losing more than me, so he started giving guys little pushes on the back saying ‘let’s go, let’s go.’ He had a lot of fun with it.”
Getting the chance to coach his son again meant a lot to Guy. It was a tough year for the Gaudreau family as back in March Guy suffered a cardiac event while running a half marathon, forcing Johnny to leave Calgary for his family’s home in New Jersey and miss two Flames games.
“We were nervous there 10 months ago. We weren’t sure he was going to make it or not. He pulled through,” Johnny Gaudreau said. “It’s been a great 10 months since then. He’s come to a lot of my games and this was just a great memory for me and him. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Guy Gaudreau worked with Peters to come up with line combinations and figure out the Pacific Division’s starting lineup, which didn’t include his son since there were three San Jose Sharks in the game. Coaching has been his life and he currently serves as Director of Ice Hockey Operations at Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell, N.J, which also happens to be where Johnny Gaudreau learned the skate, thanks to a little help from some Skittles.
The result wasn’t what they wanted, but the memories the Gaudreaus will take away from this weekend will last forever.
“I think it was just neat for him to be able to be out there with Johnny,” said Peters. “That’s what it’s all about.”
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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.