DENVER -- There's another marquee matchup brewing in the NHL's Western Conference final between the Edmonton Oilers and the Colorado Avalanche, and this one has nothing to do with Nathan MacKinnon or Connor McDavid.
For 2-year-old Gemma Grace Manson, the main event will be her dad -- Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson -- trying to get past former NHL player turned Oilers assistant coach Dave Manson, her grandfather.
Theirs is the classic case of a house divided during the best-of-seven series that begins Tuesday night. But Josh says his daughter's loyalties shouldn't be.
"She better be pulling for me," Josh said Tuesday. "She does love her grandpa, but I think she better be pulling for me, or we'll have words."
It's rare enough for a player to follow his father's footsteps into the league. Now the Mansons face the unique experience of attempting to eliminate each other from a critical postseason series that will result in a Stanley Cup Final berth.
Dave was a blueliner like his son, suiting up in 1,103 NHL contests 1986-2002. He even did a three-year stint in Edmonton that started the year Josh was born (1991).
The younger Manson said he can't recall that period of their lives, although local media shared recollections of him running around the Oilers' dressing room. Josh, who does remember other stops along the way of his father's career playing for seven teams, is in his ninth season in the league and his first with Colorado.
Reaching this Western Conference final was no easy feat for either Manson. There's a competitive fire on each side to emerge victorious. What happens on the ice, though, pales in comparison to what both sides hold dear off it, though.
"Family comes first. That's been my dad's motto always," Josh said. "I don't think there'll be lines crossed. We'll keep our secrets to ourselves, but we'll still have that good relationship. I think it's different because he's behind the bench. He's not on the ice, right? But family comes first, so we'll talk and communicate. He'll be there for me, and I'll be there to talk to him about whatever."
It helps that Dave doesn't usually weigh in on his progeny's performances. At least until he can't help it.
"He never really calls to give advice unless I'm really in a slump and he can't hold it in anymore," Josh joked. "Then maybe he'll say something, but it's always short and he's so good at reading your body language and tone of voice."
Those qualities are what Josh thinks have made his father into a successful coach. It's not every player who can make the transition, and Dave paid his dues with the Western Hockey League's Prince Albert Raiders and the American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors before being promoted to the NHL in February from Bakersfield as part of Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft's staff. Josh doesn't expect to benefit from his father's coaching expertise in the next week or two. But it doesn't take away from the pride he feels in how the family patriarch has excelled in a new role.
"[He knows] when to push and when to back off," Josh said. "I think that's what makes him a good coach as well [as a father]. He knows how to handle situations. There's never too much advice. I think, through this series, there'll be even less of that."