GLENDALE, Ariz. — There were long flights, late nights, triumph, disappointment and, always, a routine to follow on the Penguins’ two-game road trip to the west.
Then there was the shopping in Scottsdale, Ariz. The stroll around the Santa Monica Pier. The lunch excursions.
The Penguins did something new on their road trip, which included a 4-1 win Thursday at Los Angeles and a 3-1 loss Saturday at Phoenix.
Most of the players, coaches and staff brought their mothers along for the team’s first moms trip. There have been several dads trips in recent seasons.
Winger Taylor Pyatt was maybe the only player who has been a part of a moms trip before. His mother, Kathie, joined in on one when he played for Vancouver. That doesn’t mean the mother-son Pyatt contingent enjoyed this one any less.
“She was all excited when she heard the team was having it,” Pyatt said. “It’s been a good experience.
“They’re getting to know each other pretty well and having a great time. I think she has a little more respect for the travel schedule we have. We’ve had some late nights and some busy days.”
Winger Jussi Jokinen’s mother, Maria, no doubt came the furthest for the trip, traveling from Finland.
“I think it’s been really cool for everybody,” the younger Jokinen said. “I think everybody appreciates how hard they worked when we were young, growing up. Everyone’s life is so busy and hectic. It’s been really nice to spend some quality time with our moms.”
There was a team dinner in Los Angeles at the opulent home of team co-owner Ron Burkle. There were two practices, two games, two morning skates, three flights.
The morning of the game against the Kings, the moms were invited into the locker room to attend the pregame scouting session. They also watched a series of videos the players made with personal messages to their moms.
Coach Dan Bylsma, whose mother, Nancy, made the trip, couldn’t help but notice that after the locker room pow-wow Thursday morning, most of the moms did not stick around to watch the game-day skate, something the dads have always done. But there were other things that made the moms trip stand out.
“It’s been distinctly different than the dads,” Bylsma said. “I’m 43 years old and I feel like my mother is watching over me and taking care of me on this trip.
“We’ve talked about the fashion and the size of the carry-on luggage. I think they thought it was a two-week trip, not a two-game trip.”
Bylsma enjoyed not only having his mother along, but also watching the interaction between the players and their moms.
“For me, and I know the guys, as well, having our mothers on the trip and to be able to repay them and say thank you for everything they’ve been for us, it makes me feel a lot younger because I feel like I’m about 12 or 13 years old with having my mom [along] and being able to say thank you and I love you,” Bylsma said. “I heard a lot of I-love-yous from their sons.”
Maria Jokinen was at something of a disadvantage because her English is limited, but that didn’t dampen her experience.
“I think she understands a little bit more [than she’s able to speak],” Jussi Jokinen said. “She’s getting more comfortable speaking the language and speaking with other moms. It’s been a really crazy experience for her.”
The Penguins started holding dads trips after Ray Shero took over as general manager. The team didn’t hold a parents trip of any sort last season, which was shortened by nearly half because of an NHL lockout.
There’s no telling whether the Penguins next season will have a moms trip, a dads trip or both.
Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly.