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Tears and a Parade

July 18th, 2017 at 10:23 AM
Aggregated By Sports Media 101

In a profession filled with self-promoters and hot take artists, Chris Parker has carved out a successful career on the radio by simply being himself. Contrived takes and scripted rants designed to generate more callers have never been a part of his repertoire. Over the past 22 years, the guy you hear on the radio is largely the same guy you’d meet down at a Sabres game.

The root of Parker’s success might be traced to a commonality with his listeners. Like most Buffalonians, he is a covert optimist who possesses a sure eye for bullshit. A love of family and an appreciation for cold beer at reasonable prices are embedded in his DNA. Listening to an outsider disparage his city raises his blood pressure; imagining Jack Eichel skating around Key Bank Center with the Stanley Cup overhead moves him close to tears.

Recently, the Artist Currently Known As the Bulldog kindly took some time away from a relaxing vacation to reflect on life as a hockey dad, what it was like to get married on the night of No Goal, and his well-earned distaste for the musical stylings of Enuff Z’Nuff

My primary takeaway from your Twitter feed is that you seem like a really good dadâ?? not a “hey, look at how much I love my kiddos” type of parent that often litters social media these days, but a genuinely good man that loves and supports both of his sons. What’s the best part of being a dad? What have you found to be the greatest challenges associated with being a good father?

I appreciate the compliment. I’m not sure what the best part is because there’s so much that I might answer differently on another day. Seeing them learn is hard to beat. Two examples involving our youngest, Leo, who is 13:

His math grade in the fall was really low. We talked with him about it, suggested he stay for extra help, offered to help him ourselves. Instead, he dug in, applied himself and figured it out. He made the honor roll by spring.

Leo also wanted to learn guitar. Last summer his hands were so weak that he couldn’t play the simplest of chords. Playing music is something I enjoy with friends and our oldest, Owen, had picked it up pretty well but Leo was struggling to keep up and find his place with it. He played just about every day from September to now and got into a guitar class 3 days a week at schoolâ?? I mean the kid was just grinding away at it and the results are fantastic. I can just strum some chords but he finds places to fit lead licks in and I have no doubt he ends up as the most accomplished guitar player in the family, which isn’t incredible or anything because I’m mostly a hack, but he’s going to blow by me soon.

The greatest challenge is holding yourself to a high standard and setting a good example. I try hard and do pretty well, but when I screw up, it’s compounded because not only do I feel the impact of whatever mistake I’ve made myself, I’m upset that I’ve let the boys down, too. This can be as simple as losing my temper over something frivolous or something larger.

How would you compare your own childhood to the home your sons have grown up in?

I was born in 1965. My parents were born before World War II. They were supportive and loving but just in a different way than my wife and I are. There was a bit more distance between me and my parents than we have with our boys. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a very different time.

It seems like you’ve managed to navigate your way through the world of travel hockey without becoming a total nutcase. What advice would you give to a parent who is just venturing into the jungle of competitive youth sports?

Competitive youth sports can be tricky and I’m certainly no expert. I let Owen make the decisions and I think that’s a healthy place to start. Sure there’s some steering involved, but trusting your child to make the right decision is important. I never wanted him to feel like he was doing this for me.

That said, I did have to push him some to try out for his first travel team. That could have blown up in my face and almost did a few months into his first travel season. Owen was clearly the second best goalie on a really talented team. He played against teams they just clobbered. They’d win 10-0 and he’d just be standing there bored. The other goalie played the tougher teams and Owen was not having any fun. He told me at that point that he’d like to give up goaltending next season and go back to being a skater. I said that’s fine, but you’ve got a season to play here. As it turned out, Owen got his chance against a couple of stronger teams and played well. The coaches started treating the goalies as interchangeable and Owen just kept getting better.

The perseverance to get through that first travel season has been a big building block for him. He was challenged and responded. Things have progressed from there. So much so that as I’m responding to you Owen is in the yard doing wind sprints and squats. That sort of commitment is not for everyone.

If you’d asked me three years ago if it was something Owen would want to do I probably would have said no. Yet here we are. So the point is, let the kid decide how competitive he or she wants to be. The last thing I’d ever want is my kid doing push ups swearing at me under his breath. I’ve always been clear with him that he can take this as far as he wants. Whenever he wants to stop, there’ll be no questions asked. I wanted him to be challenged. I wanted him to get in shape. I wanted him to learn about discipline and accountability. He’s done all that. The rest is gravy.

You and your wife were married on June 19th, 1999, which is a fairly notorious date in Buffalo Sabres history. What was the best and worst part of getting married on the day Brett Hull stole the Stanley Cup from the Sabres?

The worst part was easily the run up to the wedding. Fearing there’d be a conflict. …

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Tags: america, Amy Moritz, Brett Hull, Brian Duff, Bulldog, Community Beer Works, Enuff Z'Nuff, Gregg Williams, Imus, Mike and the Mad Dog, No Goal, Phil Housley, Rob Ray, The Captain and Tennille, The Steam Donkeys, The Tragically Hip last August in London, ON, tim murray, Tom Donahoe, Will Johnson/Centro-matic

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