It appears as though the Holiday Break couldn't have come at a better time for the Montreal Canadiens this season. After a roller coaster 4-3 OT win in Nashville on Saturday night, the Habs look like a team that needs a few days of rest and relaxation away from the rink and the game.
Montreal has the rare opportunity this particular season to have a stretch of seven days off in between games. In fact, they won't even return to the ice for practice until next Friday when they arrive in Tampa to prepare for a date with the Lightning.
While the physical break is always enjoyed, sometimes it's the mental break that can be the best thing for a player; a few days away from the arena and the game all together, spending time with family and friends to enjoy the season.
Sometimes it can be overlooked how much a few days of family time can do for a player. A good example would be Daniel Briere, who has only been back to his home in Philly with his kids once since arriving in Montreal for training camp. A few days back around the Christmas tree with family can be a great recharge.
Max Pacioretty will have his hands full with a new baby to welcome into the family over the break, and no doubt will enjoy a few days off during the whirlwind experience of becoming a father.
It's also a case of some good ol' home cooking, with several players heading home for the holidays. Ryan White said he's most looking forward to Mom's cooking.
The holidays also bring out memories of childhood and for players with young kids, a chance to pass on family traditions. Even though Travis Moen recalls his excitement of receiving his first shotgun on Christmas morning at 12 years old, he's not looking to pass on that tradition, saying "we live in the city now, so I can't see that," but jokes that some traditional food dishes are in order and of course the matching pajamas for the whole family.
It's a mixed bag for the Habs this year, some who have family coming to Montreal while others will venture home. There are even plans which include enjoying the holidays away in a different destination to escape the madness. One of those spots include Florida, where they'll remain and await the team's arrival next week.
No matter which Habs player you talk to, and what the plans are, the common theme remains the same, it's all about family. Hockey players are a tight group and the dressing room is much like a family, so it's no surprise that remains the focus.
So, while the players take a few days off, the fans should as well. Relax, take your mind off hockey for a few days. Focus on the people around you. Spend some quality time with family and friends, and enjoy the festive season. Line combinations, statistics, and standings can take an aside for a few days to focus on what's really important. It's a long season in an Olympic year, and there's lots of hockey to still be played.
Of course, there's still the World Juniors to watch on Boxing Day on TSN.
And now, a few holiday notes...
I'd like to take a moment to thank all our team at TSN Radio 690 in Montreal. It's been a well-documented wild ride for the last two years, but things look brighter than ever for the future. There are a lot of people behind the scenes that make the station tick day to day and I'd mention all the names, but fear of missing some. While you all are most likely familiar with the on-air talent, there is one name you don't hear of often that I'd like to mention. He is our game night producer Marco Campagna. He's the voice at the other end of the line every game for me, and also assembles our Saturday night montage openers. Top notch guy who never misses a game and it wouldn't be the same without him.
Congratulations to our colleagues at RDS, who will remain as the Canadiens Regional rightsholder "en francais" for another 12 years. In addition to my friends Pierre Houde and Marc Denis, there are a lot of good people who work behind the scenes every game to bring a quality broadcast and it's nice to see they'll still be together. A great piece of news before the holidays.
Atlantic Canada, stay tuned, more Habs hockey is coming to a radio near you in 2014! The TSN 690 Habs Radio Network is expanding very soon.
To all our listeners from across Canada and around the globe (yes, we know we have listeners in Australia and beyond), thanks for tuning in at all hours of the day. And to answer our most commonly asked question once again, if you have a PVR, pause your TV and listen online to sync up the feeds of TV and radio for a game.
And finally, to all our listeners wherever and however you listen, thank you for allowing us into your homes, cars, earphones or any other way you tune in. From 690 AM, to internet, Bell TV, Bell Fibe, TSN Radio apps on your smartphones, NHL Radio on satellite and even podcasts, thank you.
Enjoy the holidays everyone, wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the best to you and yours. Please don't drink and drive. We'll see you back on the airwaves Saturday night in Tampa Bay for the Habs and Lightning.