Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith kisses his son, Colton, after Game… (Scott Strazzante / Chicago…)
The Blackhawks are growing up.
They've won the Stanley Cup twice in four seasons, they're again one of the NHL's elite teams--and a handful have become first-time dads recently.
Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa each welcomed their second children earlier this season, and both are fathers to a pair of daughters. Sheldon Brookbank and his wife are expecting their second child in the spring, and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson also is prepping to become a dad in the next few months.
RedEye caught up with Sharp, Hossa, Brookbank and Duncan Keith to get the lowdown on their fatherly experiences.
Daughters Madelyn, 2 years, and Sadie, 3 months
Biggest differences between becoming a dad and doing it second time?
"I was a little more relaxed the second time through, not so nervous about the little things. As a family, we'd been through it once before, so it's like we're veterans now."
Any good stories from your time as a veteran dad?
"Yeah, the first time I showed up at the hospital and spent a lot of hours and was all disheveled and out of whack. The second time I showed up prepared. I had my iPad, I had some pajamas to wear on the bed there. I was relaxing, watching football, and before you know it I had a second daughter. It pays to go through it once before."
You've had success on the ice after each of your daughters was born, right?
"It's funny how it worked out, scoring game-winners right after both of the daughters were born. I don't know why that happened. I just think I'm more relaxed and not really thinking about hockey too much, just enjoying life."
Are you a diaper changer?
"I'm going to say yes, but make sure my wife doesn't see that, because I'm not a diaper changer. I try to be the best dad I can be, but when it comes to changing diapers, that's Mom's department."
What shows is Madelyn into now?
"She's big into 'Doc McStuffins.' She likes the Bubble Guppies. She loves singing, so she sings 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," and she sings her ABCs, the alphabet song, but her favorite song is 'Old MacDonald Had a Farm.'"
Do you ever catch yourself subconsciously humming along with the "Bubble Guppies" theme song or some other a kids' song?
"I've never caught myself doing it, but I'm sure it's in my head because that's all I hear all day long are kids shows on television or on the iPad or my daughters singing them. I try not to think about it too much."
Are there any kids shows that annoy you?
"Yeah, ['Caillou' is'] the worst. That's bad. All of them are the worst, to be honest with you. If you actually watch the show and get into it, they're tolerable, but if they're just background noise, they're all painful."
How about when you were a kid? Were you a "Sesame Street" kid? Who was your favorite character? Do they even have that up there in Canada?
"Oh yeah, c'mon now. Oscar the Grouch."
Sum up what it's meant to become a dad—twice.
"It's pretty life-changing, to be honest with you. I have a lot of friends that have kids and my brother has two kids and they all say the same thing, that it changes your life for the better. And it definitely does. I'm a different person now with the two girls, especially the fact that they're girls and not boys ... that changes everything. Softened me right up."
Is Madelyn talking a lot?
"Our 2-year-old doesn't stop talking. She's talking all the time and she's pretty good at carrying on a conversation, which is pretty impressive at 2 years old."
How are Keith and Seabrook as dads? Both of those guys are dads now ...
"It's a little different picturing it. Seabs is pretty much a dad to Duncs right now. He looks after him, picks him up and takes care of him. He's been looking after him, pretty much, for the last six years, so Seabs has some experience in that situation."
Daughters Mia, 2 years, and Zoja, 2 months
Were the emotions any different with the birth of your second daughter earlier this season than your first?
"Pretty much the same. It's exciting news to my family. It's just a beautiful thing when you hold a newborn and you know mom and the baby are healthy. It's just exciting."
What's it been like being a dad the past couple years?
"It's awesome, especially when the first one is getting older. She understands more things, so we basically can have a little talk with her and she's starting to pick up on some things. It's getting more and more great."
Are you a diaper changer?
"Oh yeah, definitely. Maybe at the beginning I was a little scared to do these things, but once I got over that it was no problem. It's pretty much routine now."
Do you find yourself having to watch more kids television shows?
"Oh definitely. You wake up in the morning and have to put on Disney Channel, the Mickey Mouse things. It's all part of the routine."
What are some of your best memories so far of being a dad?