GLENDALE – At first glance, this week’s Coyotes schedule, that features three home games in four days, seems like it sets up nicely for the home team because of no traveling.
But what about having to play a game the night before Thanksgiving and then having to play back-to-back games the two days after Thanksgiving, a holiday known – and beloved – for people lying around watching TV and gorging on rich and hearty food?
“It’s nice to be home but it’s a weird schedule for us,” forward Kyle Chipchura said. “You just don’t see three home games in four nights very often. Hopefully the guys won’t eat too much on Thanksgiving because we’ve got those back-to-back games right after.”
Chipchura was joking, of course, but it is a fascinating situation and it raises the question: Will the holiday on Thursday factor into how things play out on the Gila River Arena ice this weekend?
JP Major, the team’s strength and conditioning coordinator, said he has advised the players, who are off on Thanksgiving, to enjoy themselves, but also to work up a light sweat at some point in the day and to not go too crazy at the dinner table.
“Everything is OK in moderation,” Major said. “Everybody wants to taste their favorite foods at Thanksgiving so we allow them to, but what you don’t want to do is to overstuff. If a guy
comes in five pounds heavier the next day then we’ll definitely need to have a talk.”
Major said the players received nutrition tips regarding portion sizes early in the season that will serve them well on Thanksgiving. So will the 80-20 rule that allows for occasional treats and breaks from hardcore nutritional regimens and training.
“Times like these are what make our 82-game schedule sustainable,” Major said. “You’ve got to allow for a little bit of wiggle room. If we’re so strict the whole time the guys are just going to snap mentally. Days like these are good for them.”
Captain Shane Doan has played 20 NHL seasons and has learned how to approach Thanksgiving.
“There’s an element of understanding your job and your responsibilities,” Doan said. “At the same time, being a husband and a dad to four kids, you enjoy Thanksgiving. There’s a balance there.”
Like Doan and Major, Chipchura isn’t worried about the holiday affecting he and his teammates over the rest of the weekend.
“I think the guys will cut back on what they’d normally eat on Thanksgiving and try to eat a little lighter than usual,” Chipchura said. “You can’t be loading up on too much gravy, too much potatoes, too much pie. It’s a great holiday but we have to remember we have big games all weekend.”