Jul 16, 2012

Jordan Nolan thumb.jpgBy Craig Rybczynski -- For two weeks in June, Ted Nolan did something he had never done before in his hockey career. The former NHL coach and professional hockey player enjoyed the game as a hockey parent. On Monday, that roller-coaster of emotions he spoke of ended with his son Jordan hoisting the Stanley Cup at Staples Center for the Los Angeles Kings.

“It was the first time I immersed myself in being a father and not a head coach,” said Nolan, who joined his son’s playoff run after coaching Latvia in the 2012 IIHF World Championship. “I was a father being proud of his son. I just let the emotions ride. I have never been nervous coaching or playing, but I was a ball of nerves. I was being a typical nervous father, but I would do it all over again.”

The anxiety felt by Ted, 54, was uncommon for the man known for his composure behind the bench and in the business community. The veteran of four NHL coaching seasons and a former NHL Coach of the Year needed his wife, Sandra, to help him keep his emotions under control, which included some sleepless nights, as the Stanley Cup series moved to sixth game.

“He was probably more nervous than I was,” Jordan Nolan told NHL.com. “Having him here is really special. He's seen all the hard work I've done these past few years, the changes I had to make. He's a big part of that, so it's definitely great.”

On Monday, the wait and, the weight of the series, finally ended for the Nolan family with the Kings’ 6-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Ted admitted that he never imaged his son lifting the Cup at center ice when his second pro season began with the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs.

“I was hoping he would develop his game and be in the NHL in a year or two,” he said. “But he made some life decisions and alterations in his personal life. He concentrated on his body and staying in shape. To see his commitment and the results at 22 and winning a Cup in his first season doesn’t happen that often. All the credit goes to Jordan.”

Jordan was in his second season with the Kings after getting selected seventh round (186th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He played in 26 regular season games and all 20 playoff games, even scoring a goal and adding an assist as part of the high-energy fourth line.

His development, according to Ted, was a result of the Los Angeles Kings’ commitment to its younger players.

“They develop their kids. They take them to camps all summer long and are committed to a program. He was lucky to get drafted by the LA Kings,” said Nolan.

Ted has also been lucky this season in personal and professional life. Not only did his youngest son win a Stanley Cup, but the Rochester Knighthawks – who he works for as an advisor - won the National Lacrosse League’s Champion’s Cup. Leading Latvia to an Olympic berth also ranks up there with the former two events, but his oldest son Brandon gave him one of his greatest joys on Easter.

“Those things are important but we became grandparents when my son Brandon and his wife had a boy, Hunter Theodore on April 8th,” said Ted. “It is the biggest gift anyone has given us. We were blessed with a grandchild and our other son won the Stanley Cup.

“It has been quite a year. I think I am going to buy a lottery ticket,” added Nolan with a laugh.

The family will have a chance to celebrate both blessings this summer when the Nolans have their day with the Cup. It will be a historic occasion for the family and First Nations, according to Ted, which will require some thought and details.

“We are doing some planning for the Cup to come to Garden River (Ontario),” he said. “I believe it’s the first time someone that won the Cup will bring it to a First Nations’ community after winning it.”

With a huge celebration in the works, Ted pondered breaking tradition and touching the Stanley Cup when it comes to Garden River. Superstition cautions against making contact with the Cup for those intent on one day winning the most prized trophy in sports. When Phil Pritchard, Keeper of the Cup from the Hockey Hall of Fame, brings the Cup to the Nolan house he may once again allow himself to get caught up in the emotion of the day.

“I stood underneath it, but I didn’t touch it yet,” said Nolan. “When it comes to the reserve, we’ll see what happens.”

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