Maple Leafs’ Pontus Aberg finding balance between parenthood, hockey

TORONTO — Pontus Aberg’s three-year-old daughter Molly has been asking him to take her skating ever for the reason that snow began flying. So when his name again to the NHL first rang by way of on Thursday night time he didn’t hear the telephone entering into his pocket.

A second try from Laurence Gilman, the Toronto Maple Leafs assistant normal supervisor, reached him whereas on the out of doors ice at Harbourfront Centre with Molly — solely becoming for a single dad or mum who’s all the time making an attempt to strike a steadiness between his two loves.

“That’s just about my life,” Aberg stated Friday. “It’s her and hockey.”

After all, this explicit name arrived each with excellent news and a few problems.

The Leafs are heading out for a nine-day highway journey that can take them by way of St. Louis, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Aberg had been anticipating to be house this weekend for a pair of video games within the American Hockey League and instantly needed to pack.

As for Molly’s care, he’s in good fingers.

That is the second straight season the Swede has had his mom, Annethe, dwelling with him in North America to step in when his distinctive job calls for require it.

“She’s serving to out once I’m on the highway and when I’ve to sleep in and nap,” stated Aberg. “So, it’s working very well.”

A part of the attract for him in signing with Toronto over the summer time was stability. The Leafs confirmed extra curiosity than rival groups — providing him a $700,000, one-way contract — however they might additionally assure he’d dwell in the identical condominium whether or not he cracked the NHL roster or not as a result of solely two kilometres separates Scotiabank Area from the place the Marlies play.

Since Molly’s beginning, the 26-year-old winger has skated with Nashville, Milwaukee, Edmonton, Anaheim, San Diego and Minnesota. Final January, he was traded from the Geese to the Wild and that was a very robust transfer for his daughter.

“From plus-15 to 20 [Celsius] to minus-30 in a flight was one thing that Molly didn’t take very nicely,” he stated.

She’s since discovered to like the snow and their new house in Canada’s largest metropolis. One among Aberg’s favorite pastimes away from the rink is documenting their adventures collectively and a fast glimpse at his Instagram feed reveals that Molly is clearly the apple of his eye.

On the working finish of the work-life steadiness, Aberg has proven intriguing glimpses throughout his earlier NHL stints. He performed an everyday position throughout Nashville’s journey to the 2017 Stanley Cup Closing and scored 11 objectives in 37 video games for Anaheim final season, and is now getting into an incredible alternative with the Leafs.

This recall got here with Andreas Johnsson being positioned on long-term injured reserve due to an undisclosed leg harm and Aberg will step instantly into Johnsson’s place on the highest line beside Auston Matthews and William Nylander.

That’s a testomony to how nicely he’s carried out within the AHL, the place he first caught Sheldon Keefe’s eye earlier than his personal promotion to the Leafs job. Keefe stated Aberg all the time confirmed up nicely within the Marlies’ defensive video clips due to how tenacious he was in incomes the puck again in conditions the place they misplaced it.

His NHL bonafides carry an added layer of belief, too.

“The most important factor is simply that he’s performed within the league, he’s had success within the league, he’s scored within the league earlier than and he’s performed with good gamers earlier than,” stated Keefe. “Clearly me teaching him within the American League, I’ve seen what he’s able to doing at that degree when he’s enjoying at his greatest, so we’re going to present him a possibility right here to indicate that he can belong.”

The Leafs are sputtering and gained’t have Johnsson again till Dec. 31 on the earliest, so the door is clearly open for Aberg to make an impression.

Whereas he wasn’t happy along with his coaching camp efficiency, he says he feels extra snug now with the techniques the group is enjoying. Fatherhood has additionally introduced a brand new perspective on issues — one which doesn’t see him dwell a lot on the day-to-day ups and downs that include being a professional athlete.

“When I’ve a foul sport or the workforce’s enjoying dangerous, I don’t need to get down on myself or something,” stated Aberg. “I’ve to be completely happy round my daughter and he or she brings pleasure. She’s all the time completely happy, even [if] we lose or win, in order that’s been large for me the previous two years.”

Molly is even exhibiting a budding curiosity within the household enterprise. Thursday was simply her second time on the ice following a Christmas skate with the Geese final yr, however she’s proving to be an enthusiastic pupil.

“She doesn’t have the steadiness but, however she’s been asking for 2 weeks to go skating,” stated Aberg. “She is aware of that I can skate as a result of she’s at each sport. She’s asking me to show her, in order that’s what I’m making an attempt to do.

“Now we have to purchase her a pair of skates for Christmas.”

As for Aberg, his personal current arrived a pair weeks early with these calls from the Leafs.

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