It’s opening night of the new NHL season and whether you’re all about a Penguins repeat or just hoping the Leafs make the playoffs, Dads all across the country have a date on the schedule circled: the game they’ll go to with their kids.

I was 9 before I attended my first NHL game, a 5-5 tie between the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers in January, 1979. Ken Dryden at one end, Bernie Parent at the other and me in the legendary Montreal Forum.

Zacharie was a little younger when we took him to his first game. He was just 18 months for that experience in January 2009, a legendary match up between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Vancouver Canucks.

While I lasted the entire game that night with my grandfather and can tell you the score of the game, Zacharie will remember little from his first hockey experience – he didn’t even make it to the second period. NHL rinks are filled with kids every night of the season and I still don’t understand how parents can get them through the night. We showed up early so he could see the fun of warmup, and he got to cheer along for a couple of goals, but as the night dragged on, he just gave up.

Thankfully we planned to have his Nana meet us at an exit at the first intermission and take him home, otherwise we would have had to escape. In fact, that’s what happened just a few months later. I decided to try again. Just a Father and Son night out. Again, we didn’t make it to the second period. He was too light to hold the stadium seats down. He was squirming and kicking everyone around him and couldn’t decide whether or not he wanted to sit, stand or be held.

How old are your kids that you take to “the big game?” How long do they last? How do you do it?

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