Stu Cowan: Canadiens’ Allen balances life in NHL fast lane, parenthood
Canadiens goalie Jake Allen and his wife, Shannon, are ready to start playing zone defence at home.
After the birth of the Allens’ third child last Monday, head coach Martin St. Louis joked: “Now they’re going from man-on-man to zone defence. It’s an adjustment.”
St. Louis knows because he and his wife, Heather, have three boys.
The Allens have three girls with baby Cohen, 5-year-old Lennon and 4-year old Reagan.
“You’ve just got to be adaptable,” Allen said during a one-on-one chat following practice Monday in Brossard. “That’s part of the hockey life and the situation we live. My wife’s great at that. She’s very adaptable and she can handle a lot that’s thrown at her. We’re very fortunate because our (two older) kids are in school now, so that gives her a little break in the day. It’s definitely a change. We knew that was going to be a tough task for the first couple of weeks. There wasn’t much sleep last week, but we’ll get adjusted.
“We’re super excited,” Allen added. “We’ve been looking forward to it all summer. It’s been four years of trying to get another one, so we’re very fortunate.”
Allen will be able to catch up on his sleep with the Canadiens leaving on a nine-day road trip Wednesday with games in St. Louis, Minnesota and Winnipeg. Allen’s parents were in town last week to help with the kids and his wife’s parents will be in Montreal to help while he’s away on the road trip.
Allen is from Fredericton and met his wife through mutual friends. Shannon attended the University of New Brunswick and wasn’t a big hockey fan at the time. But Allen said she has learned to appreciate the game — what happens on and off the ice — and has been fortunate to make friends everywhere he has played. He added that the life of a pro hockey player teaches important lessons and Allen and his wife had to grow up fast.
“She’s a big part of our foundation at home,” Allen said “She’s pretty much the brains behind that. The hockey part’s the easy part we always say about this life. It’s the logistics on the outside that you try to keep things as balanced as you can. She really does that for me and lets me focus on hockey and takes care of business at home.
“I’m very fortunate,” he added. “I think it’s important to find someone that understands your situation. The life we live, in the blink of an eye you could be traded the next day. You never know. She understands the position and the reality of it. She’s been a trooper the whole way.”
Allen, 32, knows what it’s like to be in a household with three kids because he has a brother and sister who are close in age.
“Like everyone says, you have to enjoy every single second of it,” he said about being a father. “There are some days you get home at 3 a.m. and you get up and maybe don’t want to roll out of bed. It’s so cliché and so dad-like to say because everything happens so fast, but I really try to embrace every second I can with those girls. It has happened in the blink of an eye and I really want to enjoy them during this time in their life because I don’t have forever to play this game.
“I really want to let them enjoy this opportunity,” Allen noted. “There’s some day when they’re 16, 17 or 18 and they’ll say: ‘My dad played in the NHL.’ These are the memories that you try to create, especially playing for the Habs, and most likely we’ll be back in Habs territory in New Brunswick when we retire. These years are super important and crucial and you really want to try to make the most of it. It’s fun seeing them at the warm-up every game. They’re starting to put it all together, so it’s cool to see.
“It makes you appreciate everything,” Allen added. “I played a few hard years in the American Hockey League and every day it’s fortunate to be in this league, it doesn’t matter what team you’re playing for. I think it’s the same approach for me being a dad. To be a dad and thinking about trying to have another baby for four years and finally having it. Even though as a dad you’re sort of useless at this stage, you try to still appreciate every second you can. I think that’s the biggest thing for me is just enjoying every single day I have here — win, lose or draw. It could be 10 bad games in a row, but I’m still wearing a Canadiens logo and playing in the NHL. That’s sort of the same approach I take to being a dad.”
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