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PRINCIPE: Merry Christmas

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
- Photo by Getty Images

For all the discussions that took place before a new CBA was ratified almost two years ago, one thing wasn't highly publicized. After all the back and forth to come to an agreement on a salary cap, it's no wonder that not much was made of the NHL's Christmas break. It used to be that all games were completed on the 23rd. On the morning of the 26th, it was back to the airport, hop on a plane and to the rink for the start of the post-Christmas schedule. However, the routine has now been moved a day to the 27th. An extra day means a lot this time of the year.

You barely finished stuffing your face with turkey, mashed potatoes and so much more and then, on a day meant for great shopping deals, it was back to work. Lethargic is probably the best way to describe how I used to feel on the 26th. Now I don't have to worry about that, and neither do those involved with the NHL. 24 more hours to celebrate, rest and prepare for the post Christmas break schedule. It's been a difficult season thus far for Edmonton. Despite where they stand in league play, maybe more than ever, it's important to clear their minds of hockey. Just a few days are needed to focus on what's truly important this time of year.

Family, friends and food to go along with some holiday cheer. Throw in some goodness to man (and woman) kind and you have the spirit that should shine through during the holiday season. Count David Perron as one of those types of people. When I spoke to him prior to the Arizona game and started talking about Christmas, his eyes lit up like a little kid. Perron said he loves Christmas or Joyeux Noel. He decorates inside and outside his home and the winger invited every Oiler over for Christmas dinner. Anyone who didn't have a place to go, Perron's house was open to one and all. Mark Fayne and his sister from Boston were headed there. Teddy Purcell, Leon Draisaitl and about 10 teammates in all would be at Perron's place.

There were many that would be traveling to get home for Christmas. Jordan Eberle had the short trip to Calgary. Others like, Luke Gazdic, were hopping on a red eye to get to Toronto by early morning on the 24th. Imagine what a difference a week has made in the Christmas plans of Todd Nelson. He'll still be in Oklahoma City for the holidays but coming from Edmonton before and headed to Calgary after wasn't exactly the original plan. Of course, he's not complaining.

In the end, you can only hope you are around as many people as possible who love you. It's a time of peace and not the power play. A time to feast and not forecheck. A time to give and I don't mean giveaways. A chance to get away from work, to forget the losses and concentrate on your wins. A time to reflect on what kind of person you are and to enjoy what you have and who you have in your life. From my family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas.
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