‘You want what’s best for him:’ How Tage Thompson’s wife helped fuel his Sabres emergence

Tage and Rachel Thompson beamed whilst admiring their 3-month-old son, Brooks, then started to giggle as they took turns describing the enjoyment of gazing their child boy steadily divulge extra of his persona.

“Every day, we wonder, ‘Who’s he more like?” Rachel began. “And it changes every day. Some days he’s more like you, some days he’s more like me.”

“He makes some faces that look like her, big time,” Tage endured. “It’s little facial expressions. A smile or a laugh.”

Sitting on a sofa of their lounge, the Thompsons had been within the throes of shifting to every other house at the Buffalo waterfront. Boxes had been packed. Tage used the afternoon off following a Sabres coaching camp follow to start executing Rachel’s imaginative and prescient for Brooks’ first bed room. Furniture used to be assembled. Décor used to be ready to be hung within the new area.

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Tage Thompson

Tage Thompson with wife, Rachel, and son, Brooks. 




Finally, four-plus years after Tage’s arrival in a blockbuster industry with the St. Louis Blues, he and Rachel can start to plot their long term in Buffalo.

Rachel quipped with amusing, “We can start to imagine what our lives will look like with one more baby.”

Tage, 24, won a seven-year, $50 million contract extension remaining month that has him below contract with the Sabres thru 2029-30. He’s a cornerstone participant for the franchise after a tumultuous get started in Western New York.

The couple doesn’t have to hire a house every season. They are entrenched within the town the place they’ve grown in combination and persisted what Rachel described as “the lowest points in our lives.”

On the ice, Tage performed throughout the force of a industry that, 11 months after it used to be finished, helped St. Louis win the Stanley Cup. He wound up in Rochester right through a troublesome first season with Buffalo, persisted a painful shoulder harm that restricted him to 1 NHL recreation in 2019-20 and fell from first line to taxi squad below former trainer Ralph Krueger.

Away from hockey, Rachel underwent surgical procedure just about 4 years in the past to take away a mass above her proper knee and save you most cancers from spreading.

With every milestone and misfortune, they’ve been by means of every different’s aspect. Last season, Rachel watched Tage creator a breakout, 38-goal season whilst enjoying heart within the NHL for the primary time. He strives for extra, in particular for a Sabres franchise that’s amid an 11-year playoff drought, and although there shall be extra demanding situations, he’s empowered by means of the toughen of Rachel, who’s been there throughout the triumphs and tumult since they met on his nineteenth birthday.

“I feel like we know each other better than anybody else, having gone through all the highs and lows and being there to support each other,” Rachel added whilst cradling Brooks.







Sabres Hurricanes Hockey

Buffalo Sabres heart Tage Thompson prepares to take a faceoff towards the Carolina Hurricanes right through the 3rd duration on the KeyBank Center on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022.




Tage used to be running to ascertain himself as a full-time NHL participant with the Sabres when, on Jan. 28, 2019, he won a choice from Rachel whilst out to dinner with teammates in Columbus, Ohio.

Tage briefly excused himself. He and Rachel had been anticipating effects from a biopsy taken a couple of weeks prior. Rachel skilled ache in her proper leg that she concept used to be the reaggravation of an harm from her time at the dance group on the University of Connecticut.

An MRI confirmed a mass, however medical doctors had been positive it used to be benign. The biopsy printed the real prognosis and Rachel needed to proportion the scoop over the telephone: chondrosarcoma, one of those bone most cancers. She used to be scheduled for surgical procedure in Connecticut day after today. A contemporary graduate of UConn, her approaching transfer to Buffalo needed to wait.

“It was obviously a terrible, terrible thing to hear,” Tage mentioned. “Then I had to go back and sit down and eat dinner with the entire team. It was all I could think about that night, the next game and for a while. That’s all I was thinking about. So, it distracts you, but it’s obviously what’s most important.”

Back in Columbus, Tage scored a target towards the Blue Jackets the next evening, his 7th in a Sabres uniform.

Following Rachel’s a hit surgical procedure, each and every bone scan has come again cancer-free. Further tracking received’t be important if her subsequent scan in the summertime of 2023 is blank.

With assist from her folks, Rachel moved to Buffalo in February 2019. She used to be on crutches for a number of weeks whilst the couple lived at the most sensible ground in their three-story rental development in Williamsville. The transition used to be tough for Rachel. Tage used to be there when the Sabres had been on the town, however she didn’t instantly have a toughen gadget whilst he used to be away. He attempted to decorate her spirits and supply convenience with his Valentine’s Day reward: a 3-month-old yellow lab pet named Buff.







Sabres Training Camp (copy)

Buffalo Sabres participant Tage Thompson right through the primary day of coaching camp on the KeyBank Center on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. 




Teammates’ better halves and girlfriends insisted on serving to Rachel when her circle of relatives returned to Connecticut. They ran errands for her and took Buff on walks.

“Coming out here was kind of scary because you’re going through this big, emotional, physical thing in your early 20s,” she recalled as Buff walked round, wearing a toy in his mouth. “When my parents left, who do I have here? When the team is on the road, it was kind of scary. … But the girls here were all super helpful and a huge support during that whole recovery time, for sure.”

A creating participant on a group stressed by means of prime expectancies and defensive deficiencies, Thompson used to be assigned to Rochester in past due March 2019. The transfer used to be a troublesome blow following a 23-game stretch through which he had no targets and one lend a hand.

But he used to be familiar with the trade of hockey. His father, Brent, performed for 3 NHL groups and 7 American or International Hockey League golf equipment previous to a training occupation that’s integrated stops in Peoria, Ill., Anchorage, Alaska, Long Island, and Bridgeport, Conn.

Tage went to 9 faculties by means of his junior yr of highschool. He left house as a young person to play at the US Hockey National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Mich. But the unpredictability of the hockey existence used to be new to Rachel. And this newest transfer got here at a troublesome time for each.

Tage used to be decided to defend Rachel from frustrations he had with his occupation. When at house, his focal point used to be to be at her aspect and take a look at to assist any method he may.

“It gave me a bit of a different perspective because growing up, hockey was my main focus in life,” he mentioned. “Playing in the NHL, making it, being a big player on the team, someone the team turns to. But family and health are most important. I didn’t want to dump everything on her with what’s going on in my hockey career and, obviously, I would just hold everything inside and just worry about her and how she’s doing. It felt like a juggling act of emotions. You want to make sure she’s doing OK, but then you don’t want to just kind of bury things down inside that are going to eat you up.

“I think when you go through adversity or all these challenges, especially at a young age, it benefits you. You’re going to come out of it stronger. That way, when you’ve faced more challenges down the road, it doesn’t seem as difficult as it would have been.”

A painful yell crammed the quiet guests’ room at Chicago’s United Center as newshounds filed in to interview Sabres gamers. In an adjoining room, Thompson simply had his dislocated shoulder popped into position by means of a teacher.

Confidence key for Tage Thompson to stay in Sabres lineup

Thompson enters his 2d complete season of professional hockey and he desires to stick in a single position this season: the Sabres

The harm, which Thompson describes because the “most painful” of his occupation, passed off within the ultimate moments of a 4-1 loss to the Blackhawks on Nov. 17, 2019. Thompson used to be summoned to Chicago that morning to play his fourth recreation in 4 nights following a hectic weekend with Rochester, but he slightly stepped at the ice in his go back to the Sabres till the ranking used to be out of achieve.

Thompson chipped the puck into the offensive zone and reached it prior to defenseman Olli Maatta pinned him towards the forums. As Thompson attempted to break away, he felt a pop in his shoulder.

“The pain really didn’t start settling in until I was skating back to the bench,” he mentioned. “I just kind of had my shoulder hanging there. I tried to move it a little bit and I couldn’t. I almost passed out when they put it back. Face just lost all color. … I just remember the flight home being really uncomfortable. The whole way home, you’re just thinking, ‘I already know it’s a long-term thing.’ Frustration sets in.”

A couple of weeks of conservative remedy proved useless. Thompson underwent season-ending surgical procedure, getting rid of his alternative to turn out he used to be in a position to be an affect participant for the Sabres. He spent the former summer season coaching tirelessly within the health club and at the ice. His 5,000-calorie-per-day vitamin allowed him so as to add power to his 6-foot-6 body. Now, he used to be confronted with an extended restoration and limited unfastened company at the horizon.

For the period of the 2019-20 season, Tage and Rachel lived within the Marriott at LECOM Harborcenter. He wanted her to drag him out of the inevitable spiral that athletes undergo right through an extended restoration. At Rachel’s urging, the couple left the resort as regularly as imaginable. They went to the films, walked across the mall, attempted new eating places and took Buff across the town.

Rachel’s been there for Tage since lengthy prior to he arrived in Buffalo, even if she used to be completing her stage at UConn. The couple had common FaceTime calls right through his time with the Blues. She visited him in San Antonio and St. Louis when imaginable. Only distance has separated them since they first met at a Halloween celebration.

“It was hard because there’s a lot of emotions,” Rachel recalled, making eye touch with Tage as she spoke. “You’re trying to manage your feelings and trying to understand what’s going on. It’s tricky because you want what’s best for him. I’ve seen all the work he puts in and then to have the shoulder year was really tough because you got your chance back in Buffalo and obviously, the first game you got hurt. That was another hard year.”

The Covid-19 pandemic behind schedule the beginning of the next season till January 2021, however Thompson gave the impression top to tackle a distinguished position. After receiving a three-year contract from then-new General Manager Kevyn Adams, Thompson used to be a number of the Sabres’ best gamers in coaching camp and earned a place at the most sensible line subsequent to Jack Eichel and Taylor Hall.

Tage Thompson ready to 'take advantage of the opportunity' with Sabres

With added power to compete in a brief coaching camp, Thompson will use the teachings realized in Rochester, and the urge for food to be a fixture within the NHL, to check out to make an affect in Buffalo.

Krueger had little endurance, although. Thompson used to be demoted and sooner or later taken out of the lineup. He used to be assigned to the taxi squad in spite of his immense attainable, and didn’t play for a bulk of the membership’s franchise-record 18-game winless streak. He stored running, although. And his trail to enjoying time used to be transparent as soon as Don Granato used to be increased to period in-between trainer in March 2021.

Granato may after all be offering the chance that wasn’t to be had when he coached Thompson at the US Hockey National Team Development Program. Then, Thompson used to be a lanky, professional teen caught at the back of Eichel and Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin at the intensity chart.

In Buffalo, Granato put Thompson within the lineup within the ultimate weeks of the 2020-21 season, injected self belief by means of expressing trust in his ability and concocted a plan to transport him to heart.

“The adversity, I never doubted he would handle it,’ said Granato. “What I was trying to do was make sure he knew my belief that the day was going to come, and he was gonna get to the other side of it. As I watched his training, his targeting, his routine, I knew he was on the cusp of getting to the other side of it. Then, we started to have totally different conversations (when I became coach). The start of last year was, ‘It’s time to score. You’ve done all the work. You did all the work. You are a goal scorer, you are a playmaker, you are a bona fide NHL player. It’s time.’

“He’s done it. He’s proved it. And he’s got an appetite for more, which is probably most fun of all now.”







Sabres Hurricanes Hockey (copy)

Buffalo Sabres participant Tage Thompson makes his option to pregame previous to enjoying the Carolina Hurricanes on the KeyBank Center on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. 




Wearing an ‘A’ at the entrance of his jersey to indicate his status as an alternative captain for a up to date preseason recreation, Tage Thompson skated to the nook of the ice right through warmups to pose for a photograph with Rachel and Brooks, who stood at the different aspect of the glass.

“Honestly, I’m just so happy for him,” mentioned Brent, Tage’s father. “The biggest thing is they have such a great relationship. They truly love each other, and they’re there for each other. The support they give each other is outstanding. She’s obviously a fantastic mother and I’m happy to see them grow together. To see them when they met as teenagers, and now they’ve got a family, it’s pretty special.”

It used to be the kind of hockey second Thompson envisioned when he heard the scoop in December that Rachel used to be anticipating a boy. He goals of getting Brooks within the group’s dressing room to proportion in his and the Sabres’ good fortune. Tage used to be a stick boy with the New York Islanders when his father used to be an assistant trainer there and present Sabres winger Kyle Okposo used to be at the group. Thompson sometimes helped the apparatus body of workers and hung across the rink with his more youthful brother, Tyce, a prospect with the New Jersey Devils.

As the couple awaited Brooks’ arrival, Rachel learn a large number of parenting books and relayed the tips to Tage. They watched a birthing elegance and won the standard tidbits of recommendation for first-time folks. Meanwhile, at the ice remaining season, Tage established himself as a competent target scorer and playmaker. He additionally emerged as considered one of a number of leaders within the Sabres’ dressing room.

“I was just so happy for him because I know how hard he’s worked,” Rachel beamed once more. “We always thought he could do it. To finally see it all come together, it was really awesome. Being pregnant at the same time, there were just so many exciting things happening all at once.”

Tage’s new contract offers them balance after years of uncertainty. They received’t must pack all in their assets on the finish of every season. Their focal point is elevating their child boy. Tage joked he’s nonetheless “not a morning person,” although Brooks’ sleep time table has been beneficiant just lately.

“I could not hold a baby to save my life before he came and it was very awkward,” Tage joked. “Then, as soon as he came, it’s like I’ve been doing it my whole life. It’s shown me that I will do anything for him.”

“It’s shown me I’m a way more relaxed parent than I thought I was going to be,” Rachel shared as the 2 laughed. “Just the idea that you can love something so much, more than anything else in the world, is so cool to learn.”

They are elated to have toughen from each households, even from afar. Rachel’s folks helped the couple get settled into Buffalo. They’re studying the parenting routines that paintings best for them and Brooks.

Coming house to his wife and son permits Tage’s thoughts to flee ideas of hockey. Rachel doesn’t have to drag him out of that concept development like years previous. As folks, they’re rising in combination, like they’ve executed since that opportunity come across at UConn that ended in a life-changing courting.

“She’s been great,” he mentioned. “You come home, have a bad game or whatever, it can seem like the end of the world. It’s really not. Coming home, she helps put everything into perspective. I try to leave hockey at the rink as much as I can, but sometimes it’s so hard for me to do that. It’s my life. … She does a great job helping me kind of drop it and now that we have him, it’s been even better.

“You come home from the rink and however bad you thought your day was, it’s always great to see them. It just always makes me happy.”

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