Peter Cizikas has learned during several dads’ trips not to try to keep up with his son Casey and his Islanders teammates. Not when it comes to eating.
The Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders will have their annual dads and mentors’ trip during their two-game swing to Boston on Tuesday and against the Devils at Prudential Center on Thursday night.
The Islanders (30-15-6) did not practice on Sunday after back-to-back games at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. They rallied for a 4-2 win over the Kings on Saturday night after a thrilling 1-0 shootout loss to the NHL-leading Lightning on Friday night.
Much of the Islanders’ core group has been together for several seasons, and the dads have grown close.
“He’s made a lot of friends over the years,” said Casey Cizikas, 27, who first came up to the Islanders in 2012. “He’s always talking about how we’re going to go out for beers. Then, the first dinner on the road, he’s like, ‘I’m stuffed. I’ve got to go to bed.’ ”
The NHL is jokingly called the “Never Hungry League.”
Cizikas said: “He goes, ‘Everywhere I go, there’s food. In the morning, the afternoon, at lunchtime, at the rink, after the rink, on the plane, there’s food everywhere.’ The first trip, he would eat everything. I think he’s kind of learned to settle it down a little bit. Pick your meals.”
Almost every NHL team hosts some kind of family-related team-bonding trip, be it for the fathers, the mothers or the siblings.
“It’s a good trip,” defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. “You get to spend time with your dad and everybody’s dad and get to know them a little bit better. It helps you when you see them around. It’s just a nice little touch.”
For many players, it’s a reminder of when their parents would drive them to early-morning youth games.
And, Cizikas said, a way of giving back for all the time their parents sacrificed to help their careers.
“To be where I am today, it’s definitely isn’t on me,” said Cizikas, who added to his career high with his 12th goal on Saturday. “It’s definitely on them. They made the sacrifices. They made the time. It might have cut into their social life a little bit. Or a lot, I guess. But they made the commitment in getting me to where I am today. This trip means a lot to them. It’s a nice way to give back.”
Boychuk, 35, played for the Bruins from 2008-14, so this will be a bit of a homecoming for his father, also named John.
“We’ve gone twice on the fathers’ trip there,” Boychuk said. “We lived there for quite some time so my dad knows a couple of people. He goes there and thinks he’s the mayor.”