Hockey dad Dan Petry hopes for Wings vs. Canadiens

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Jeff Petry

Detroit -- You can count former Dan Petry among the interested observers in the outcome of the Red Wings' game Wednesday night.

If the Wings win Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, they'll move on to face the Montreal Canadiens in the next round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Petry's son, Jeff, plays for the Canadiens.

"I'm playing close attention, for obvious reasons," said Dan Petry, who pitched for the Tigers in the 1980s and '90s.

"Boy, it'd be nice to see a couple games in your own backyard."

Jeff Petry, 27, grew up rooting for the Red Wings, attending Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Michigan State.

He's gone on to become one of the better defensemen in the NHL, starting his career with the Edmonton Oilers before he was dealt to the Canadiens at the trade deadline this season. The Red Wings were believed to have some interest in trading for Petry.

Petry scored four goals in 19 games down the stretch with Montreal, before helping them beat the Ottawa Senators in a first-round playoff series.

It's Jeff Petry's first trip to the postseason -- which led to Dan Petry's first trip to Montreal last week.

"It's nerve-wracking as heck for me," Dan Petry said. "It doesn't matter who it's against."

Dan Petry, 56, pitched 13 seasons in the major leagues, including 11 with the Tigers, with whom he won the 1984 World Series.

Retirement has been different for him, in that he's coached high school baseball and cheered his son on in the NHL.

It's odd, he said, when you have no control over the outcome.

"I've just gotta sit there and root," he said, laughing. "I don't care how old they are, they're still your kids, and you want them to be successful."

Jeff Petry, at the end of the playoffs, will be a free agent for the first time, but Dan Petry said he's not talking much about that now -- not with a shot at the Stanley Cup right in front of him.

The idea that Detroit could be interested, though, certainly is intriguing.

When they were younger, Dan Petry took his sons, Matt and Jeff, to a couple Red Wings games a year. Baseball was Matt's sport, and he's gone on to be the varsity coach at Orchard Lake St. Mary's, where Dan helps coach, too. It was always hockey for Jeff, who grew up as a huge fan of Nicklas Lidstrom.

"Obviously, it'd be pretty special for him," Dan Petry said. "His childhood team."