Hockey player Bobby Butler never thought he'd have a shot at making the U.S. Olympic team.
Typically, those coveted spots are reserved for America's top NHL stars. But a surprising announcement from the league — this year, they've decided not to allow rostered players to compete in the Olympics — has opened the door to lesser-known players like Butler.
Butler during his time in the NHL with the Nashville Predators. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The 30-year-old Butler was, at one point, a journeyman NHL player, bouncing from team to team due to cuts and trades. Today, he plays for Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL (American Hockey League — sort of like the NHL's minor leagues). Butler represented America in the 2013 World Championship, where the U.S. team took bronze, but the Olympic team would be, without a doubt, the biggest stage of his career.
While the lack of NHL star-power meant more opportunity for greener players, competition was fierce: Team officials searched high and low for talent to join the squad — the college ranks, Americans in foreign hockey leagues, and players from the AHL — before putting their recruits through an intense trial period.
Butler made the cut. And while he was overjoyed, there was one person in his life he hoped would understand his intense flurry of emotions: his dad.
Team cameras were filming practice when Butler's dad stopped by, and the newest member of the U.S. men's hockey team got to give his old man some good news.
Butler's dad swelled with pride and wrapped his son in a bear hug as teammates cheer. The heartwarming video gives major feels:
TFW you tell your dad that you’ve made the US Olympic Team 🙌🏻#TeamUSA 🇺🇸 https://t.co/ASoOYYXS4Z— Milwaukee Admirals (@Milwaukee Admirals) 1514845287
Dads have a reputation for often being stingy with displays of physical affection. But that might all be changing.
That's not to say that fathers don't love their kids! They do. But it's been suggested that, generally, men prefer to show affection (particularly to other men and their sons) by bonding over shared activities or doing something nice. Hugs, kisses, and "I love you's" can be few and far between.
That kind of bonding has its place, but studies show that kids really benefit from a lot of warmth and physical affection from their parents. The good news is that some research suggests many men today might just be up to the task, and are driven to provide "better quality of fathering than they had experienced."
In any case, the viral response to Butler's embrace with his father shows that maybe we are ready for a world where a father can kiss his son, hold him when he's sad, and embrace him in moments of joy.
Even in the rough-and-tumble world of professional hockey.