Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? A turkey and some mistletoe? Perhaps Gulas and Knedliky? How about Bundlegukko on Christmas morning?
Every family has their holiday traditions, right? Thanksgiving marks the start of the season; and no matter who we are or how far we’ve roamed, thoughts naturally turn toward home and family and the special things each of us look forward to and enjoy.
Hockey players are the same way, too. But the road to professional hockey starts early, and for most players leads away from home while still a teen. For some, their careers are spent in a strange country, with strange customs.
A European player in the NHL is no longer a rarity. The Tampa Bay Lightning, in fact, have a fair representation of players who were born and raised in another country, on another continent.
We thought, with the holidays upon us, it might be interesting to ask some of the European contingent of players what they miss about their homeland.
Andrej Meszaros – born in Povazska Bystrica, Slovakia.
“I miss some of the food, though it’s fatty stuff and I don’t eat it now, I still miss it. Mostly fried cheese and crepes – the crepes are not like here. After that, I miss my family and friends, of course.”
Jussi Jokinen – born in Kalajoki, Finland
“The candy! I miss the Finnish candy! It’s much better than the candy here. I always ask friends to send it to me. It’s different – some have fruit. I miss the black licorice. I know they have that here, but believe me, it’s not the same.”
Evgeny Artyukhin – born in Moscow, USSR
I really miss Russian TV. I found some on the internet, so it’s not so bad now. My first year away I missed my parents but I’m older now. I still miss them and my friends. I don’t miss any particular food, though. I cook for myself and it’s mostly American.
Marek Malik – born in Ostrava, Czech Republic
I have teammates and friends here, but I still miss my old buddies. Christmas time makes me think about the Christmas cookies back home – they’re special. My wife is Czech so we keep the Czech traditions. We also mix in the American traditions so the kids get to know it all. My wife is a great cook. Lucky for us, the kids like Czech food.
Radim Vrbata – born in Mlada Boleslav, Czech Republic
“With the internet I get Czech TV, Czech radio and Czech newspapers. That makes it easier for me. My wife cooks Czech food, so I have that. I do miss the buddies I used to hang out with. You can have everything now, except the people.