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Dads' turn to hit road with Blackhawks

CHICAGO -- For the third consecutive season the Chicago Blackhawks will entertain a family member on a road trip.

It’s the fathers’ turn to travel with their sons to Florida this week and take in games against the Panthers and Lightning. Last season the moms were invited for a two-game trip to Los Angeles and Anaheim. In 2009-10, the dads went west.

Team President and CEO John McDonough has been the driving force behind the trips and the players appreciate it.

“Anytime you can share some quality time like that it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Patrick Sharp said. “Last time we did the trip my dad had a great time.”

For some newcomers, it’s the first time they’ll have a chance to share the road experience with their dads.

“My first year I was in Washington and just got called up for the dads’ trip but my dad didn’t make it,” native Finnish defenseman Sami Lepisto said of his dad Jussi. “He’s excited.”

The dads will fly on the team charter, play some golf and have a team meal or two with their sons. Last time they accompanied the team they were allowed in the dressing room before the game.

“I wasn’t here for the [previous] fathers’ trip, [but] I had my mom with me last year in L.A.,” Viktor Stalberg said. “My dad wasn’t too happy. He was looking forward to a dads’ trip but it didn’t happen. So he’s excited. It’s a tremendous gesture from the organization to let us do this. My father is really, really excited about going.”

So are the dads off-limits when it comes to road pranks?

“Last time we were going to do something to the Kane family and it got printed in the paper and they were on guard the whole time so it didn’t work out,” Sharp joked. “I’m going to be a straight shooter this time. No pranks.”

For the record, the moms have bragging rights so far. The Hawks went 1-1 with them on the road last year. The dads were 0-1-1 two seasons ago.