Kamloops Storm Head Coach Jan Ludvig broke into the NHL in 1982-83 with the New Jersey Devils. He played in the NHL until 1988-89 with the Buffalo Sabres and finished with 54 goals and 87 assists for 141 points in 314 career games with both organizations.
Now Ludvig’s son John, a former Storm player, is embarking on his NHL journey with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 12 games, the defenceman has one assist, that first NHL point earned Nov. 28 against the Nashville Predators. Jan has been enjoying being around his son during the Penguins father’s trip that ends today with them watching their sons play against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The trip started in Pittsburgh on Dec. 12, watching the team host the Arizona Coyotes, then traveled to Montreal the next day.
Jan Ludvig: “Watching your son finally — such a hard worker, a bunch of adversity in his life, on and off the ice — finally achieve his dream, it doesn’t get any better. It’s actually better than when I played. More special, to be honest.”
John Ludvig: “Thanks Dad” pic.twitter.com/8WVt7YwpOm
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 13, 2023
The KIJHL spoke with Jan during his trip.
KIJHL: What’s it been like being on that trip?
JL: It’s amazing. I know how hard John worked to get to this point and the sacrifices he made and it’s finally happening for him. On top of it, they are 2-0. The Dad’s are undefeated and it’s really fun to watch. The game against the Canadiens went 12 shootout rounds. That was exciting watching all the other dads feeling like me.
KIJHL: What are some of your favourite moments so far?
JL: There are so many, it’s a flood of emotions. There isn’t one single moment. I have enjoyed everything.
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KIJHL: What’s it been like to watch your son in a Penguins jersey?
JL: It brings back all kinds of memories when I think back and see Johnny in that jersey. My first NHL game was against Pittsburgh in New Jersey. I believe in destiny and maybe there is some destiny in it and of course, I’m watching Mario Lemieux coming into the league. I was already a year or two into my career when he came in. We actually played a game before, let’s call it the Mario Lemieux draft and it was a race for the last spot. Everybody knew it was going to be him and we played in Pittsburgh. They called up half of their minor league team and we won 5-3. They got Mario and we got Kirk Muller, who was a hell of a player too.
KIJHL: What’s it been like to spend this time with your son?
JL: We had some nice talks about the journey, the family sacrifices, siblings. We all try to help him. He’s a good man, tough as nails. He’s humble and as a parent, of course I love the hockey part, but watching him grow as a person, that is probably the most rewarding thing.
In talking about John’s journey, Jan gave the KIJHL credit.
“Without that step and guys like Ed Patterson coaching him, and all the great coaches from Kamloops, and of course the Portland step – Mike Johnstone, Donnie Hay, and Kyle Gustafson. Without those steps, Johnny never gets there. He got help from the whole community and it’s very special. The KIJHL had a huge part in it, he learned a lot and that’s a great league.
— Hailey Hunter (@TheHaileyHunter) December 16, 2023