Most days, the Chicago Blackhawks locker room is crawling with reporters looking for a quote. This day, it's crawling with . . . well . . . crawlers. And walkers. And a few eat-sleep-and-cry-ers.
And while all eyes are on famous names like "Hossa," "Keith" and "Seabrook," these hockey sweaters are much smaller versions than what we typically see on the United Center ice. After all, these jerseys are designed for the hockey players' tinier counterparts-their kids.
That's right: the Blackhawks are having a baby boom. In the last two and a half years, the team has added eight mini-Hawks to its ranks, with two players-to-be-named-later on their way.
"Everyone's been joking that they're the lockout babies," says Abby Sharp, wife of left wing Patrick Sharp. "We've actually had to convert part of the family room into a kids' play area. It's so much fun."
We wanted to find out what life is like for these new Blackhawks families, so we sat down with seven Blackhawks wives to talk about parenting while the team's on the road, raising kids in Chicago, and whether the hockey-playing dads are really tough enough for diaper duty.
--Story by Elizabeth Diffin. Photos by Liz DeCarlo.
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Husband: #17 Sheldon Brookbank, Defenseman
Kids: Bennett, 16 months; Baby #2 due in May
How would you describe your husband as a dad? He's the best. I honestly couldn't imagine doing it without him. He's so helpful and great. He takes the early shifts and changes diapers and feeds Bennettº and he's right on the floor with him playing.
And how do you handle it when Sheldon's on the road? "Handle that" is actually a great way of putting it. You get in kind of a routine; you get used to it. I think it's tougher for Bennett because he's a daddy's boy. He loves having his dad home. So for him, it's probably a little bit worse than it is for me.
Would you like to see Bennett play hockey? He likes playing mini-sticks with his dad at home, which is fun. I know that, especially growing up in Canada, it's such a part of the culture, having the kids play outside and things like that. I think that he would really enjoy it. But whatever he decides to do.
A lot of fans are kind of curious about the Blackhawks wives in general. Is there one thing you wish they knew about you?
That we are really just normal. We talk just like other girlfriends do and do the same kind of things and share the same kind of experiences. I think a lot of people would be surprised at how boring our day-to-day lives really are in the grand scheme of things.
You went to culinary school. Is that something you use in daily life?
At this stage of my life, it's more just doing it for the joy of doing it and cooking for the family. We do like to have dinner parties, although having a baby kind of limits that aspect of things. But we still like to enjoy a nice meal every once in a while.