Paul and Theresa Reinhart used to be like the average Canadians; they’d watch the IIHF World Junior Championship every holiday season with their three sons from the comfort of home.
But for the last two years, the family sofa in West Vancouver, B.C., has been replaced by arena seats. Not that the Reinharts are complaining, of course.
That’s because at each of the last three World Juniors, at least one of their sons has been a part of Canada’s National Junior Team, although they’ve only been to the last two.
Middle son Griffin represented Canada at the 2013 tournament, but because of some logistical issues the Reinharts didn’t make the 8,400-kilometre trip to Ufa, Russia.
But they went to Malmo, Sweden last year when youngest son Sam joined Griffin as just the third set of brothers to represent Canada in the same year.
“It’s always fun to have the family travel with you,” says Griffin. “Having them there and Sam on the team [in 2014] just made it that more special, so it was fun.”
Now it’s Sam’s turn all alone, wearing the ‘A’ for Team Canada in Montreal.
The eldest Reinhart, Max, never played at the World Juniors, but does have Team Canada experience of his own with Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team at the 2010 IIHF World U18 Championship.
So needless to say, the Reinharts have plenty of experience waving the Canadian flag all over the world, although they’ve noticed no matter where they go, they’re rarely alone doing so.
Take last year’s World Juniors, for example.
“The enthusiasm from the crowd that traveled over there [to Malmö] was indicative of how exciting [the World Juniors] can get for a Canadian hockey fan,” Paul Reinhart, who played 10 NHL seasons with Calgary and Vancouver, says.
While Team Canada families make the long trip overseas to watch their sons play, on the ice is one of the few times they actually get to see them.
Hockey Canada has the entire tournament scheduled down almost to the minute, which Paul – as a former NHLer – understands perfectly well.
“The boys understand that they are not there for the sights, but for the experience and to take care of business, compete, and hopefully win a medal,” he says. “We still get to see them after the games, though.”
And while those post-game meetings are a quick chance to catch up and allow Paul an opportunity to talk hockey with his sons, they usually include a special request for Theresa.
“Do you know what they were doing?” she says. “They were bringing me their laundry! ‘Can you get my shirts cleaned and drop them off at the hotel?’”
With Sam in his last year of World Juniors eligibility, the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship will mark the final trip to the tournament for the Reinharts, at least to watch one of their sons play.
So what will the holiday season bring next year?
“Hopefully they’ll all be playing in the NHL on Dec. 26 of next year,” Paul says. “That would be a very nice position to be in.”