Christmas Away From Home
Saturday, 12.25.2010 / 10:35 PM CT / News
By Cody Eastwood - DallasStars.com
While most people have an opportunity during the winter holiday season to unwind and reconnect with family and friends, the phrase “home for the holidays” doesn’t always correlate to a hockey player’s schedule. No current Dallas Stars player’s home is within 800 miles of the Metroplex.
“In Junior hockey, you got a week-to-10 days off,” recalled Stars forward Brian Sutherby. “I remember my rookie year I spent Christmas by myself in a hotel. I think it broke my mom’s heart a little bit. Ever since then my Mom, Dad, Brother, and Sister fly down no matter where I am.” After being traded to Dallas from Anaheim in December of 2008, Sutherby and his family spent another Christmas in a hotel room. That year, Christmas dinner was spent at a Dallas area IHOP. “It was the only restaurant that was open. It was probably the least memorable, but most memorable Christmas.”
With his home 5,076 miles away in Stockholm, Sweden, Stars defenseman Nicklas Grossman enjoys his time away from the ice. “You usually get a couple days off. I’ll have some people coming over here like my parents, sisters, or friends. I try to get as much rest as possible.” With several players without their families this winter break, traditions form between teammates such as gift giving or practical jokes. “When I played in Sweden, I got a junior stick with the wrong curve on it. The team told me I should start playing with that stick. It was fun.”
Experiencing his warmest Christmas temperature during his four years in Dallas, Stars defenseman Matt Niskanen has learned to cope with being away from his family. “I’ve got to go home once in my four years playing in Dallas. It’s tough, but a lot of guys have family come in and have a Christmas down here. It’s not the same as Christmas at home and seeing everyone and being in the Christmas weather.” Niskanen’s favorite Christmas gift from a teammate came in his rookie year with Dallas in 2007. “It came a little early, but when Marty Turco doing my car,” referring to his 2001 Pontiac Sunfire that was tricked up by his teammates and given to him as a surprise. As far as what Niskanen will do this holiday break: “My mom usually cooks prime rib and I’ll watch some movie trilogies like Rocky.”
Stars forward Adam Burish, a Madison, Wisconsin, native, had a convenient Christmas setup during his four-year run with the Chicago Blackhawks before signing in Dallas this past summer. “Home was only two hours away for me. Every Christmas I would drive home and spend it with my family and drive back that night.” This year, Burish will not be seeing any family, but he is alright with that. “To be honest, I’m looking forward to two days off and resting, relaxing and letting my body heal. A lot of the guys probably enjoy getting away from each other for a little bit.”