SAN JOSE — The Sharks' father-son road trip was about to get under way Friday morning and Ned Shelley was trying to remember the last time he accompanied his son, Jody, on a similar journey.

"I think it was Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, around 1990," he said. Enforcer Jody Shelley would have been about 14 at the time.

Bernie Lukowich played 79 games in the NHL during the mid-1970s, but he had one big question that needed an answer before he flew to San Jose from his home in Victoria, B.C.

"He's like, 'What's the dress code?'" his son, defenseman Brad Lukowich, said. "I'm like, 'You aren't playing. Do whatever you want, like you're going golfing.'"

Normally, the Sharks would have waited until today before flying to Chicago for Sunday's game against the Blackhawks. But because this road trip isn't an ordinary one, the team began it one day early and will finish it one day late — staying overnight in Nashville rather than flying home directly after Monday's game.

This is the second father-son trip for the franchise. The first, in December 2006, didn't go exactly as planned.

After San Jose lost 8-0 in Phoenix, GM Doug Wilson gave players an earful in the team bus on the tarmac while the dads were on the plane waiting and watching. The next night, San Jose went out and beat Dallas, 4-2.


Advertisement

This time, 20 fathers are taking part, including those of the four coaches. Patrick Marleau's brother, Richard, is filling in for his father, who needed to stay on the family farm in Saskatchewan. Most of the fathers were to join their sons in Chicago, but six were on the team plane from San Jose.

Fathers say their wives don't feel left out. In at least two cases, they'll be in San Jose visiting with the grandchildren while their husbands hit the road.

Both fathers and sons were looking forward to the next four days.

"Anytime you can spend valuable time with your dad alone, it's special," coach Todd McLellan said. "The hockey part of it's the icing on the cake."

McLellan's previous team, the Detroit Red Wings, had a similar trip each of the past three years, so this will be the fourth time he and his father, Bill, have shared the experience.

"We're a very proud group and we like to see our sons succeed," said Bill McLellan, a retired member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

While this is Todd McLellan's fourth father-son trip in four NHL seasons, it's a first for some of the more recent arrivals to the Sharks, including veterans Shelley and Lukowich.

"It's going to be fun to see him in the dressing room, at the pregame meal," Shelley said of his father, Ned. "You might even see him behind the bench, who knows? He's that type of guy. He coached me when I was a kid and he still does."

Bernie Lukowich scored 13 goals and 28 points in stints with the Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues, but he wasn't sure what to expect as far as NHL life on the road three decades later.

"It's going to be very interesting to see how they operate now," he said."

For at least one dad, it's at least as much fun hanging out with the other fathers as it is spending time with their sons.

"I don't know for sure, but I think I'm rooming with Doug Murray's dad this time," said Wayne Thornton, Joe's father. "I see Doug's mom and dad quite a bit so that'll be nice. And I hope Mr. Roenick's there. He's a character."

Contact David Pollak at dpollak@mercurynews.com.