NHL players don’t need any extra motivation when competing for the Stanley Cup. The childhood dream of skating a lap with the Cup is enough for professional hockey players. However, there’s one thing that comes first.
With the release of the NHL’s new protocol agreement, it was clear the players were concerned about being away from their families. Within league rules, not only will families be taken care of back home, but if the chips fall right, they’ll be joining their husbands, boyfriends, and dads in Edmonton for the Western Conference and Stanley Cup Finals.
Player families are not permitted in the Phase 4 Secure Zone until the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final , at which time the Players will be permitted to invite their immediate family members to stay in the Phase 4 Secure Zone. Immediate family members include a Player’s spouse or partner, and his children. -NHL Phase 4 Protocols
When the players began discussing the return to play plan, it was uncertain if families would be allowed inside the bubble. Vegas is one of the older clubs in the league, so it had to be a major burden for the many fathers on the team. Marc-Andre Fleury, Jonathan Marchessault, Ryan Reaves, and Deryk Engelland all have young children. Tomas Nosek and William Carrier have infants at home. Max Pacioretty has four sons, and a daughter on the way. It’s hard to be away from loved ones for an extended time, but if the Golden Knights play well they won’t have to.
Can a family reunion act as extra motivation for the Golden Knights, or any team for that matter? I believe it can. It’s an added incentive that could generate a mental boost after playing two exhausting playoff series. Lets face it, the only way for players to see their families sooner is if they failed to make it out of the first two rounds. And if that were the case, there’s a chance they’d be no fun to be around for a week or two. Or however long it takes to get over a series loss.
Another indication showing the players’ apprehension was the NHL’s policy to assist the families back home.
In light of the potentially lengthy absence of the Players from their homes arising out of Players’ participation in Phase 4, each Club’s Club Services personnel will make best efforts to assist in providing grocery delivery and errand delivery services to the Player’s family members remaining at home in the Club city, as needed. -NHL Phase 4 Protocol
It may or may not help the Golden Knights in-game, but seeing their families for the first time in five weeks will absolutely help off the ice. With his loved ones nearby, a Vegas player may sleep better, worry less, or even feel more complete. There’s no doubt, family visits will break up postseason tension and help a player’s mental health. It can’t just be a routine of isolate, wear a mask, play hockey, wear a mask, isolate, wear a mask, play hockey, etc.
Of course with family comes distractions, but it’s nothing new to the life of a pro athlete. Plus with two highly intense series remaining, a little hectic family time could be the ideal therapy. Nothing heals the pain from a dirty crosscheck faster than watching an hour block of Puppy Dog Pals with the little ones.