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GENE'S BLOG: Home (or close to it) for the holidays

In his latest blog, Gene Principe shares how some Oilers are spending their Christmas break and wishes all of Oil Country a happy holidays

by Gene Principe /

It is a mad scramble this time of the year for people to get home (or close to it) for the holidays. 

Being an NHL player can make things a little tricky depending on where you're from, where you now call home and - just as importantly - where the schedule takes you before the National Hockey League's mandated three-day break. 

The Edmonton Oilers concluded in Vancouver on Monday night and will resume action on Friday at home versus Calgary. 

Not a bad geographical situation but it all depends on your intended destination for celebrating during the down-time away from the ice.

Here is how some of the Oilers players plan on spending their holiday season...

James Neal

"Actually, I'm going to spend a little bit of time in Vancouver. We have a big family and I'm the oldest of five. It was just such a quick turnaround to go home to the Toronto area and then come back. Luckily, I have some company. My brother Peter flew out to Vancouver, so we'll hang around here a bit and then go back to Edmonton."

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins  

"When we were kids we kind of split it up; Christmas Eve we would spend it at home and Christmas Day would be on my mom's side. This season finishing in Vancouver looks great since I'm from Burnaby but I'm actually not spending Christmas at home. We (Ryan and his wife Breanne) are going to spend the holidays in Red Deer. It's where I met her so it's easy to drive there on Christmas Eve. We'll play some board games and then we'll head back on Boxing Day."

Video: EDM@VAN: Nugent-Hopkins tallies from the slot

Gaetan Haas

"We're like everyone when it comes to having a family dinner or two. We like to have a good time with family. The food we eat back home might be a little different. We like to do a beef fondu. It makes people talk and share time together. We also eat coco chicken. The chicken has bread crumbs on it and, yes, we also eat some turkey. My girlfriend is coming over from Switzerland and my sister will be arriving on December 26." 

Riley Sheahan 

"For me, this is actually my first Christmas away from home. I have always played on the East Coast. From all the years in Detroit to Pittsburgh and even Florida, I was either a drive or a not-too-long flight away from celebrating in Ontario. It's going to be different this year but I'll have my fiancé with me. Also, my parents and my sister, along with her partner, will be coming to Edmonton so it will be kind of fun and new." 

Ethan Bear

"We have a very big family on both my dad's (Lloyd) and my mom's (Geraldine) side. We usually have 200 people at our Christmas gift exchange, which happens either in the evening on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Then we do it again with my dad's side and there are about 100 people. We pick out of a hat and do a gift exchange. Unfortunately, I won't be there as I'm going to spend Christmas with my girlfriend's family in Kelowna."

Some other Oilers are also travelling: Caleb Jones is going back to Dallas and Markus Granlund is headed to Nashville to see his brother Mikael.

The coaches also have places to go and people to see. Assistant Coach Brian Wiseman will be on a red-eye that will take him to Toronto and by mid-morning, he should be back in Detroit to see his wife and kids. 

So, there you have it. A little bit of an idea of what some Oilers are doing and where they're going. Wherever you are, whoever you are with and whatever you eat, have a safe and wonderful holiday. 

From my family to yours,

Merry Christmas, Buon Natale, Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel, Frohliche Weihnachten, Hyvaa Joulua, God Jul, Glaedelig Jul, Schoni Wiehnachte and Manitowi-Kisikanisi.

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