Mothers of NHL's Connor McDavid and Connor Brown reflect on raising elite hockey players

Anne Brown says she hasn’t sacrificed anything as the mother of two professional hockey players.

Despite all the days and nights spent watching games in cold hockey rinks and travelling to tournaments in far-flung towns, she says it was all worth it.

“I never felt sorry for myself on a Friday night being at Etobicoke Ice Sports watching a game,” says Brown, whose son Connor Brown now plays in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs and whose other son Jeff Brown played professional hockey in Europe.

“I wanted to go watch it.”

The same goes for Kelly McDavid, mother of Connor McDavid, who plays for the Edmonton Oilers and is widely regarded as one of the best players on the ice.

The two southern Ontario hockey moms, whose sons shot pucks together for the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters from 2012-2014, sat down with CBC Toronto’s Dwight Drummond for Mother’s Day to reflect on their experiences raising two professional hockey players — one a superstar centre and the other a gritty right-winger.

Hockey time as family time

Both McDavid and Brown worked full-time as they shepherded their sons to practices and games, and followed their careers as they rose through the ranks of competitive hockey.

“I would be running out to watch games and coming back to work,” said Brown. “You just make it work.”

McDavid, whose other son Cameron also grew up playing hockey, said the drives were an occasion to bond with her sons at a time before parents had to compete with cell phones for the attention of their children.

“We had some of the best conversations in the car with both my boys,” said McDavid. “And if something didn’t go right, at least you had the drive home to kind of work through it and talk about it.”

Connor Brown, left, plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Connor McDavid, right, plays for the Edmonton Oilers. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/The Associated Press (Left), Jason Franson/The Canadian Press (Right))

Both mothers said their sons relied on them during difficult times, like after a big loss.

“We’re more involved when things don’t go well,” said Brown.

McDavid said her son’s hockey career also provided opportunities the family wouldn’t have had otherwise, like a family trip to Sweden to watch Connor McDavid help the Canadian team win the gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship tournament.

She said she also formed “great relationships” with other parents.

“You’re in the rink all of the time, so if you’re not forming bonds with these ladies and families, then it’s pretty lonely,” said McDavid.

‘Enjoy it, because it goes fast’

McDavid says she’s excited that she’ll get to spend this Mother’s Day having lunch with her two sons and other family members for the first time in a long time.

As for Brown, she’ll be putting her sons to work at their cottage on Lake Couchiching, a two-hour drive north of Toronto.

When asked about advice they have for other parents of kids who dream of making it to the NHL, they both said to make the most of it while it lasts.

“Don’t think of the end goal. Don’t lose the moment you’re in,” said Brown. “Enjoy it, because it goes fast.”

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