While moms were greeting each other in the arms on Thursday night, it was clear that a new tradition was beginning for the Blue Jackets.
"I've been waiting for this for so long," Amy Jones, mother of the All-Star defender Seth Jones, said before Thursday's game. "All last week, every day, I was more and more impatient to get here, then I came here and I'm so excited."
The Blue Jackets have hosted a fathers' trip in recent seasons and Jones launched the idea of a moms trip two years ago. She and a few other mothers then continued, pushing team leaders both in person and via SMS. Finally, the decision was made – it was time to do it.
Thirteen mums – Jones, Michelle Anderson (Josh), Ellen Atkinson (Cam), Heidi Dubinsky (Brandon), Jill Dubois (Pierre-Luc), Dominique Raphael (Anthony Duclair), Cindy Harrington (Scott) and Terri Jenner (Boone). Sharon Murray (Ryan), Shannon Nash (Riley), Celine Lamy (David Savard), Catharina Wennberg (Alexander) and Kristen Werenski (Zach) – take part in the trip.
Lisa Carey and Cara Murphy, respectively Nick FolignoThe sisters, who represent the Foligno family after the death of their mother, Janis, died of breast cancer in 2009. Cheryl Kelsey, the aunt of the Danish striker based in Minnesota Oliver Bjorkstrand, is also present.
Catharina Wennberg and Kristen Werenski, who must travel about three hours from the suburbs of Detroit to see not only Zach but also his roommate Brad, who happens to be his brother.
Perhaps the most impressive trip was undertaken by Ellen Atkinson. The native of Connecticut does not like flying, but she made the trip alone to Columbus for the event.
"I'm so scared," she says, laughing. "In fact, Cam and (his wife) Nat were both shocked that I came here alone.I've always been scared to fly and have four flights in four days!"
Cam, who describes himself as a mom, would not have it any other way. Even though he joked, his mother is probably more excited about seeing his grandson, Declan, than seeing Cam play hockey.
"I think for the most part, it's your mothers who are bringing you up and making the whole trip with you, unless your father supervises you growing up," Cam said. "I love my mother, I think it's cool for her to be in this environment, especially as a professional and not as a high school boy or what."
Ellen was also one of the most popular mothers upon her arrival because she had made pink shirts for each mom bearing their son's number. On Thursday, moms wore pink shirts under their custom-made Blue Jackets sweaters, which suited them on Valentine's Day.
"Pink is my favorite color and everyone knows it," said the mother of five boys. "In fact, I painted my walls pink when the boys were small to help them calm down, with so many boys in the family. It's Valentine's Day and the bringing together of all the moms. I just thought it would be fun to do. "
"She surpassed us all," laughs Amy Jones.
No CBJ mother is perhaps as well known as Jones, who keeps a Robust presence on Twitter, where her Twitter biography names her as the "Jones Family CEO," including Seth's brother, Caleb, who debuted with the Edmonton Oilers this year.
Seth, whose father Popeye had a long career in the NBA that took him from town to town on his days of play, says it's a fitting description.
"She deserves this title," said Seth. "She's definitely the family rock, she has a great personality and she's taught me how to grow up and become a man and things outside of hockey that I take with me – she's great."
After all, hockey players do not just happen. Work behind the scenes began early with skating lessons and ultimately resulted in trips and junior hockey, with games and practices mixed every night and weekend over the years.
"Are you kidding me?" Amy Jones said. "I feel at least in my case, and I know that with probably all the mothers here, we were part of that trip, we paid the price, we got up at 4.30 in the morning, we had If someone breaks his wrist or finds himself in the hospital with stitches, losses, victories, disappointments, failures, as a parent and especially as a mother. you experience all these emotions with them – probably more.
"It's really your journey too, and seeing them succeed and their success was not easy, they sacrificed themselves at school, they sacrificed themselves in high school, they did not have the chance to go to school. There are so many things they have sacrificed to do here – seeing it pay off and all the success and all that goes with it … it's moving and it's so good. "
Cindy Harrington, the defender's mother Scott Harrington, echo those thoughts. Harrington's daughter Holly also played hockey growing up and the family was still on the move.
"Between my husband and me, someone was going somewhere," she said. "Every weekend, my husband practiced all morning sessions, but it was good, we invested a lot of time, but we spent a lot of good quality time."
At the end of the day, a hockey mother is a hockey mother, a link that links the 16 women who took the Blue Jackets flight to Windy City. Even Carey and Murphy, Foligno's sisters, grew up in a hockey family. Mike, their father, had a 15-year career in the NHL, and Nick's brother, Marcus, also plays in the NHL for Minnesota Wild.
Since the death of Janis Foligno, a close family has become even closer.
"They have become the mother figures of my life," Foligno said of her two older sisters. "(This trip) was my way of saying thank you." I asked the team, "I know it's boring to bring two of them, but I could not choose between them. It was either both of them, or nobody, I wanted them to see what I'm doing, and it's also a way of saying thank you, that's the coolest part of this trip. "
Now, the extended family of the Blue Jackets must conquer Chicago. Players and moms will dine on Friday night at an Italian restaurant in town. Foligno will give a speech ("I can not break bread in an Italian restaurant without a toast," he joked).
Then there is an excursion to the John Hancock Center Observatory on Saturday before the match at the United Center. What will be the impact of the presence of moms?
"It's fantastic to see your mother watching you play and traveling with you," said head coach John Tortorella, who said he's given it as a challenge to walk with the mothers of the team before the training on Friday. "We have to come back and answer tomorrow night (after Thursday's loss)." Having their mothers in the stands, I'm sure, will help us a lot, I think more than dads.
"If I'm in that position and my mom was there against my dad, your dad is going to train or be a little critical, your mom is just shooting for you, I think it will be really good for us. "
Until Friday, family ties contributed to the success of the mothers' first trip to the Blue Jackets. At the end of the weekend, these families will be even closer than in the beginning.
"We had so much fun," said Amy Jones. "It's so special, it's better than expected, we all have a good time, all the personalities are there, we have a lot of fun relaxing tonight's dinner and tomorrow's match will not be part of the charts. "