Aidyn Sullivan has reached the age to understand the situation.

The 11-year-old boy plays Pee Wee hockey in Middle Tennessee. It's his second year. He and his friends talk hockey. He's seen the commercials on NHL Network, the ones where past champions hoist the Stanley Cup.

The little boy is learning the history.

And his father, Steve, cannot beam any brighter.

"He understands it is not just a trophy at the end of the line," said Steve Sullivan, the longtime Predators forward. "He gets it. He knows how hard it is. He's been asking me a lot of questions about how close we've come and how hard it has been."

So when Aidyn was in Bridgestone Arena on Sunday, seeing his father getting one step closer, hugging teammates, it was the learning experience of a lifetime. He witnessed it live.

"For him to be saying, 'We're going to the next round,' it was kind of neat," the father said with a smile.

Family is one of the many reasons Sullivan is in a good place right now.

His wife, Kristen, and their four children are making family history. Aidyn, his brothers Garner, 8, Drake, 6, and sister Karlisle, 7, are seeing their father reach the second round for only the second time in his 14 NHL seasons. Sullivan is also contributing key playoff goals.

All this after a rough and tumble career, beset with serious injuries that once had him contemplating his professional future.