Like a lot of us, I've been a part of some large gatherings for a turkey dinner. For those who aren't aware, Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving in October, but we don't get a four-day weekend out of it (those brilliant Americans - always thinking). I had always known that Thanksgiving was big before I moved here, but its true importance was not clear until I lived in the US and experienced it first-hand. It's a time for family, friends, football, and psychotic shoppers. I look forward to this holiday as much as Christmas or Canada Day/4th of July (we celebrate both in my house).
One thing I always remember is family coming over for dinner. I learned to expect the unexpected when it came to my family, and we had some really interesting get-togethers over the years. It got me to thinking what it would be like if each NHL team hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for the players, coaches, management and even the fans. Follow me after the jump where I slice off a few juicy thoughts on what might transpire at each of these dinners.I think it would be interesting to be a fly on the wall at different dinners. Here's just a sampling of what I think would happen at different parties for some of the teams.
Chicago Blackhawks - A trip to Rocky Wirtz' house sees Jonathan Toews holding court, although all of his stories are really dull and told in a monotonous voice. Patrick Kane seems to have had a few too many, as I can see him hitting on the broom in the closet. Ironically, the mop is much more attractive, but I guess Kane doesn't want to set the bar too high. Tomas Kopecky is constantly asking everyone if they've seen Marian Hossa. Brian Campbell was nice enough to bring a really expensive wine, but everyone seemed to be really unimpressed with it, as most people said it tasted like "feet".
St Louis Blues - Erik Johnson cancelled at the last minute, mentioning something about "golf cart troubles", whatever that means. I found it kind of odd that Jaroslav Halak made the turkey, stuffing, and all the sides, and also set the table, washed the dishes, and even brought the wine from his personal vineyard; isn't there anyone else on the team that could have contributed? I would hate to think that he always has to do everything for the team. The fans that were invited didn't say much about the dinner Halak made, instead spending the entire time complaining about the Wings' turkey which was "too big, and not as tasty as everyone said it was."
Minnesota Wild - Everyone that was invited wore the same thing - white button-down shirt and khaki pants. The turkey was dry, the stuffing was bland, and the cranberry sauce was from a can. No one told an interesting story, the music was quiet and slow, and everyone spent the whole time just standing around. However, there was a big turnout, so I guess that's something to hang your hat on.
Colorado Avalanche - The turkey was a little better than most people expected, but it was noted that it wasn't as good as it used to be. For some reason, there was a toast to Ray Bourque, even though he was at the Bruins' party, like he is every year. Everyone gave thanks for Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy, then looked around the room in bitter disappointment at the current players.
San Jose Sharks - Dany Heatley showed up alone, even though the invitations recommended car-pooling. The appetizers were good, as were the sides, but unfortunately, the turkey fell well short of expectations. Through conversations with those at the party, while Joe Thornton claimed to have made a dish, no one could recall exactly what it was, and most people figured it was the rest of the team that contributed to the dinner while he didn't really do anything. Antti Niemi was asked to make the same dish he made last year for the Hawks' party, but it was really disappointing.
Anaheim Ducks - Dinner was pretty good, except there was hair in the mashed potatoes, which Ryan Getzlaf made. Corey Perry got the short end of the wishbone, and he got mad, sucker-punched the guy who won, and stole it from him. Teemu Selanne claimed that Randy Carlyle got more stuffing because the dinner was at his house, even though people kept reminding him that normally the person hosting gets less food.
Phoenix Coyotes - It was the strangest thing: I went to where they said the party was being held, but no one was there.
Philadelphia Flyers - In a very uncomfortable moment, Pierre McGuire cut Mike Richards' meat up for him. No one would let their wife talk to Jeff Carter, and Chris Pronger stole everyone's coats. Ville Leino cooked a beautiful duck, which was really surprising since last year he couldn't open the can of cranberry sauce without cutting himself.
Washington Capitals - Bruce Boudreau was really upset that Alex Ovechkin invited Ilya Kovalchuk, even though most people are allowed to bring a guest. The dinner itself consisted of a lot of really flashy dishes, like duck confit, a nice risotto and baked Alaska for dessert. However, none of the food was that good, and after about 15 minutes it was all cold and soggy. Mike Green brought a sweet potato side that a lot of experts considered to be really tasty, but everyone was really underwhelmed as the sweet potatoes were the only aspect of it that was any good.
Toronto Maple Leafs - The liquor selection was a little underwhelming, which was surprising since Brett Lebda was put in charge of stocking the bar, and he's got some experience with this sort of thing. No one was really sure why, but Brian Burke insisted that every player "tenderize" the turkey by punching it 5 times each. None of the fans got any food, they didn't get to talk to any of the players, and they were asked to contribute some money to supplies, yet every single one of them vowed to be back next year. This party was really important because the players were all able to confirm that they will be available for some overseas travel beginning April 11. They decided to go to Scotland to check out some of the great golf courses over there.
Pittsburgh Penguins - This was an interesting dinner because it was served buffet style at first, but everyone got tired of telling Evgeni Malkin to stop mouth-breathing all over the food. Brooks Orpik kept asking if anyone had tried the joints of a turkey, specifically the knees, leaving everyone wondering why he was so obsessed with this particular body part. The dinner itself consisted of one or two good dishes, and then a lot of very mediocre food. Everyone was having a really good time until inexplicably Gary Bettman showed up, but then Sidney Crosby announced that Gary was his guest, so people let it go.
Detroit Red Wings - The dinner was held at the Illitches', and it was a great turnout. Nicklas Lidstrom cooked a perfect turkey, and it was sliced beautifully. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg teamed up to make a great sweet potato casserole that had a ton of flavour while being very healthy. Chris Osgood was a little upset that more people ate Jimmy Howard's homemade cranberry sauce than his canned stuff, but a quick look from Mike Babcock told Ozzie that now was not the time to say anything. Kris Draper regaled the guests with stories of how each of his 4 days with the Stanley Cup was spent, with Tomas Holmstrom doing likewise, although no one could understand a word he said. Everyone laughed at Drew Miller sitting at the kids' table with Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves and Jonathan Ericsson, earning him the nickname "The Chaperone". Jiri Hudler was well-behaved, although a number of people commented on the attire of his guest (think fishnet). Overall, everyone left the party with bellies full of delicious food and hearts filled with the memories of one of the greatest evenings ever spent. It was such a wonderful evening, even the Lions won; a perfect end to a perfect day.