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Piecing Thanksgiving together

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
There was turkey, stuffing, pie and what Thanksgiving meal would be complete without arguing.

The Vancouver Canucks were treated to a fabulous dinner Thursday night in celebration of American Thanksgiving; the team only boasts four American players, but families gather on holidays and this family did just that.

Ryan Miller said earlier in the day Thanksgiving was always a very important holiday when he was growing up, he has fond memories of sharing good food and great laughs with family. The Millers gathered at the home of Ryan’s brother, Drew, earlier in the day and he joined them via Facetime to say hello.

Seeing all that food made for a long afternoon of waiting for the Canucks feast.

“This was good,” smiled Miller, dishing up a second helping. “Nothing can compete with my mom’s cheesy potatoes, but this was a really good meal. I’m thankful I could spend it with my other family.”

This is indeed a family and a tightknit one at that.

The players sat around three circular tables for the meal with laughs getting louder and louder as they ate.

After the roasted turkey breast and pork loin, sweet potato mash, home style mashed potatoes, green beans, roasted root vegetable medley and salads were wolfed down, and fresh baked apple, pecan and pumpkin pies devoured, the players loosened their pants, slunked back in their chairs and got droopy-eyed. The post-meal coma would begin in

“If I could have everyone’s attention…” Coach Willie Desjardins muted the Philadelphia Eagles beat down of the Dallas Cowboys playing on a TV behind him and took centre stage at the front of the room. “We’ve got a team building activity for you guys,” he said.

Buttons were done up and correct postures were resumed as competition was in the air.

Assistant coach Perry Pearn, whom you may remember from such team building activities as blind dodgeball, pass the tennis ball without hands, pie tin minefield and wooden skis, took over for Desjardins and explained everyone in the room, including players, trainers and staff, would compete in a puzzle challenge.

Six teams, seven members each, and six 108-piece puzzles scattered individually face down. Three people sat at the team’s table, two were runners and two were sorters; there were 10 pieces on each table to start, then pieces could be exchanged for others if they didn’t fit. First team to complete their puzzle wins.

“We’re going to be here forever,” laughed Frankie Corrado, captain of Team 4, made up of Chris Tanev, Jannik Hansen, Brad Richardson, Rollie Melanson, Air Canucks service director Robert Angers, and myself.

It was slow and steady until 10 minutes in when Pearn declared it a free-for-all – if you think it’s chaotic fighting for bargains during black Friday, the intensity of the puzzle challenge would have blown you away.

“That was a legit workout,” panted Richardson, post-puzzle.

There’s a dispute as to which team actually won the friendly challenge: Team 3, captained by Eddie Lack, was the first to declare victory (he even tweeted it), but apparently a few pieces were out of place, meaning Team 4 was the true victor. As if there was any doubt!

The puzzles, six in total, were made up of three different designs, each used twice. They all had images of the team doing the grouse grind with an inspirational message written over top. They were carefully disassembled and will be auctioned off for charity next year.

Buyer beware – Team 1 realized after signing the top of their puzzle that a few pieces were in the wrong places. Their masterpiece resembles something a four-year-old would create with a marker and a white wall.

“We did great, what are you talking about,” snickered assistant general manager Laurence Gilman. “That is easily the worst puzzle job here,” laughed a player passing by. A piece of the puzzle then flew across the room.

Nothing beats quality family time.

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