Ontario-born NHL star Brandon Montour races to Florida during playoffs to see birth of 1st child

Brandon Montour, a defenceman for the Florida Panthers, grew up partly in Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario.  (CBC - image credit)
Brandon Montour, a defenceman for the Florida Panthers, grew up partly in Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario. (CBC - image credit)

The Florida Panthers hit the ice Saturday for Game 4 against the Vegas Golden Knights, but no matter the outcome, one Panthers player has already had a life-changing week.

Brandon Montour, the 29-year-old, Ontario-born defenceman, became a new father only days ago, after his wife Ryian gave birth to their first child, a son named Kai on June 4.

Ryian went into labour last Saturday, just as Game 1 in the NHL final series began. His coach, Paul Maurice, was the one who broke the news that Ryian was in labour.

Maurice said between playing for the Stanley Cup and becoming a new dad, Montour hasn't had much time to sleep this week.

"Monty's a physical specimen. He can handle a little fatigue," said Maurice, a father of three.

"It was a good way for him to get used to becoming a father, right?"

Montour races home for birth of first child

Montour left Las Vegas around 2 a.m. last Sunday, not long after the series opener ended, and flew back to Florida on a private jet, making it in time for the birth.

He said he arrived in Boca Raton, Fla., around 6:30 a.m. and that Kai was born around noon. With little time to waste, he was back in Vegas by 10 p.m. Sunday night.

Montour returned for Game 2 and played 26:13, the most of anyone on either team.

"I tried to get there as quick as I could," Montour said Wednesday recalling his whirlwind journey.

"Luckily I was there for it all and got to experience it with her."

Watch party for Game 4 on Six Nations 

The Panthers have their eyes on the cup, with Montour and Waterdown, Ont.-native Carter Verhaeghe both star players for the team.

Points from each helped the Panthers capture their first win this series on Thursday, with Verhaeghe's overtime goal closing the deal.

Six Nations of the Grand River, Ont., where Montour partly grew up, has been hosting community watch parties to cheer the Panthers on. Another is planned for Saturday night at Gathering Place by the Grand.

Montour's aunt, Jaime Lynne Montour, previously told CBC Hamilton that she's been watching Montour play since he was a kid. She said seeing her nephew play for the Stanley Cup feels "big."

"You hear from people across the nation, across Turtle Island, and they know your name? … To see your last name in the lights like that? Like, you know for a fact the ancestors, they're so proud."