Professional hockey mom

Tate Harris
By Tate Harris April 20, 2018 12:42

Susan Prout stands by family pictures, a puck from Dalton’s first goal and a game sheet from Dalton’s first game.

By Tate Harris

A local hockey mom recalls the emotional struggles of helping her son through his hockey career.

Susan Prout is the mother of Dalton Prout, an NHL player, who has played 242 games between two teams and has most recently been traded to the Calgary Flames. Prout has watched her son go through ups and downs, like most mothers, but Dalton’s journey to the NHL is what made her experiences as a mom so different.

Dalton started playing hockey when he was eight years old. Prout said at the time she and her husband Paul were unsure how they were going to afford everything. They went through four mini vans since then and almost $500 every weekend for hockey tournaments.

“Every weekend we packed up the van, packed the kids up, the cooler. It’s just what we did,” said Prout.

At 15 years old while playing AAA minor midget for the Junior Spitfires, hockey became more serious for Dalton. Prout said coaches and other parents would constantly talk to them about how well Dalton was playing. People outside of Dalton’s team took notice of his skill in hockey and started making calls asking about his future.

“We would get home from work and there would be messages from scouts of the OHL or the GMs (General Managers) from all the OHL teams wanting to know what his plans were,” Prout said. “People were saying we should be looking into getting him an agent and we just kind of laughed.”

The calls were coming in while Dalton was writing high school exams. Prout thought pressures may have been getting to her son so she sat him down to find out what he was thinking and wanting to do. Prout said the importance of the OHL education package is a main reason Dalton made the decision to continue to play hockey. The education package covers the cost of post-secondary education for each year played in the OHL.

Dalton was selected in the second round of the OHL priority selection draft by the Sarnia Sting. According to Stats Canada, 34 per cent of young adults (20 to 34) still live with a parent, but Dalton was moving out when he was 16.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever told him this,” said Prout. “Every September I’d get a knot in my stomach knowing that he is not going to be here every day. I hate Septembers.”

After one and a half seasons with the Sarnia Sting, Dalton was traded to the Barrie Colts. Prout said the trade brought more opportunities for Dalton.

Prout made the four-hour drive from Kingsville to Barrie every other weekend to see her son play.

“We had fun at those games, it was like minor hockey,” said Prout. “All the parents were up in the corner and we were drinking our beer. We would all visit every other weekend. We would chat up with each other, but when it was their kids shift they would stop in mid-conversation, watch their kid on the ice, then continue the conversation. It was fun meeting people who all had their own story. They all have what they had to battle with to give their kid an opportunity.”

During Dalton’s second year with Barrie he became assistant captain. Prout said she believes her son’s leadership came from him being so grounded. Like most teenage boys, Prout had Dalton work during his summers at home. He worked at places like the local golf course, for the Town of Kingsville and Truax. She credits those jobs with helping him become grounded.

The second year with Barrie was also Dalton’s best junior season at that time. He had 21 points in 63 games and 121 penalty minutes which included five fights.

Fighting is something Prout said she understands and hopes stays in the game, but it is not something a mother typically wants to watch.

“Do I like it? No, not at all, but on the other hand I am cheering him on and I hope he wins,” said Prout.

By the 2010 NHL draft, Dalton had already been eligible to be picked by an NHL team for two years. It is rare to be drafted two years after your first year of eligibility and Prout said it was not something they were expecting to happen.

On the day of the draft, Prout went to Costco with her husband, Paul, and Dalton was helping at a hockey camp. While Prout and Paul were driving home from Costco they received a call from Dalton. Her Husband picked up the call to receive good news.

“He hangs up and he looks at me and says, ‘Dalton got drafted by Columbus,'” said Prout. “Of course, tears start, even Paul. I said just pull over, he said ‘no were fine. I’m fine, it’s all good.’ He grabs my hand and says, ‘it’s all good, he did it.'”

The memory of that day brings tears.

“For all the doubters, the people that told us he would never go anywhere, we knew he had it in him,” Prout said. “It was awesome. We were so happy and proud of him.”

As much as Prout credits Dalton for his own hard work, he credits his mom for being a crucial part of his hockey career.

“My mom has been as big of a part of my hockey career as she could possibly be,” said Dalton. “I think my mom’s fiercely competitive nature in sports rubbed off on me and served me well thus far. Always there to give me support and perspective, I couldn’t be where I am today without her.”

Prout said there have been recent struggles in his career. Dalton has been traded twice in the last two years. He has also been up and down between the NHL and minor league affiliates. With so many changes, Dalton appreciates the continued help from his mom.

“Each year, with all of the behind the scenes struggles of moving two, three, even four times in a season, wouldn’t be possible without my mom,” Dalton said. “Changing addresses, countries, cable and internet, water and electric, all while having a place at home for summer that needs looking after. Storage units, flights, car rentals, apartments, moving companies, taxes; you name it, my mom has helped me. My mom has helped me so much in life that she has made playing hockey that much easier.”

According to Hockey Canada, there is less than a one per cent chance of making the NHL. Prout said her son is making the most of it and treats everyday as an adventure. For whatever city Dalton is in, Prout said she must be a mom and be there for her son.

“You just do as you do as parents, help them and support them wherever they are,” said Prout.

Tate Harris
By Tate Harris April 20, 2018 12:42

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