Friday’s game against the Coyotes had a great billing: STROME vs. STROME.
It was something brothers Ryan and Dylan had waited for their entire lives. Both high draft picks. Both talented forwards. Both living their dream playing in the NHL.
We covered the two players extensively in our MSG+ pre-game show, as well as during the game. But it wasn’t until I spoke with their parents, Trish and Chris, that I really got it.
The Stromes are actually just like everyone else that loves the game of hockey. Talking with Trish and Chris, I felt like they could be my neighbors. They could be any one of the countless Islanders fans that comes to cheer on their favorite team. They could be the dad who brings his daughter to her first game at two years old. Or the mom who surprises her 10-year-old son with tickets for his birthday. They are normal parents who happen to have three extremely athletic children (16-year-old Matthew plays in the Ontario Hockey League).
It’s easy to lose sight of this fact when you’re watching a game and mesmerized by the skill of the players. It’s so easy to put them on a pedestal and view them as more than human. (Though, there’s a good chance John Tavares has some super hero powers, so he is exempt from my last statement)
But seriously, Ryan, Dylan and their youngest brother Matthew grew up loving the game like any other kid. Trish told me it was Ryan, who’s the oldest, that started the trend. He was immediately drawn to hockey and was already holding a stick while in a baby walker.
That tradition continued for all three boys. This picture below shows Matthew in the walker, and Dylan playing in the driveway. Notice the home-made goal in the garage? Their dad Chris made it.
Trish also explained after our interview that Ryan proclaimed as a little kid that he was going to be an NHL player. There was no other option in his mind. He was going to do it. So they did everything they could to help him fulfill his dream. Just like most parents try to do for their kids.
Once Ryan got involved with competitive hockey, his brothers followed. But the Stromes made it clear to all three of their kids, “The moment they didn’t want to play anymore, that was it. They didn’t have to play.”
Years later, Ryan still smiles talking about the game and is off to a strong start this year. Dylan made his NHL debut last week, and is working to stay with the Coyotes for the remainder of the season. Matthew is draft eligible this summer, and will likely be a high pick.
I hear about crazy sports parents on facebook and sometimes even on the news. They yell at the refs, fight with other parents and push their kids too hard. But I know there are great sports parents out there.
For the moms and dads who are giving up their weekends to go to hockey tournaments and driving their kids at the crack of dawn to practice, thank you. Thanks for helping to build up the next generation so they can live happy and healthy lives. Thanks for teaching them about hard work and discipline and how to be a team player.
Maybe they will end up like Ryan Strome, playing for the Islanders. And maybe they will just play the game we all love for fun. You never know. Chris and Trish Strome didn’t know if their sons would be NHLers.
Even though Ryan and Dylan have made it to the show, their parents still aren’t sure if “they’ve made it.” That was my favorite part of my interview with them. They know how hard it is to play at this level. Longevity is never guaranteed. They were humble and kind, and their children should feel grateful to have such supportive parents.