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Pens Talk Turkey

by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pens will be able to celebrate Thanksgiving Day as they don't fly out to Columbus until 8 p.m. on Thursday evening for their game against the Blue Jackets on Friday. Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff told us a bunch of them will be going to one of the guys' houses to "just hang out, watch some football and stuff our faces for a day." In honor of the holiday, we asked a few of the team's American-born players their traditions growing up and their favorite part of the meal (because the food is the best part of the day, of course).

“We have a big Italian family, so my grandpa would make a huge antipasta platter, with meats, peppers and everything. Then we would have cannelloni and manigot and lasagna, and after that, we would have the turkey and everything. Then we’d have a ton of desserts.”
Favorite part of the meal:
“Probably the pasta portion, because my grandma cooked. Now that they’re just about in their 90s – she’s 91 and my grandpa is 89 – the other family members handle the cooking and it’s still good, but it was really good back then.”

“We just went over to my grandparents’ house. This is my dad’s mother. They had his sister and brother, so the three siblings and then elder cousins and everyone over. We just had a big blowout Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everyone lived in Ann Arbor or very close. Everyone was always hanging out together. We had a very tight-knit family and extended family. It was awesome. A lot of great memories. We certainly watched the Lions every year. Back when Barry Sanders was on the team, he was fun to watch. Since then, it hasn’t been great.”
Favorite part of the meal: “Cornbread or crescent rolls. Or just straight-up dessert. Any and every kind. I have such a sweet tooth. And stuffing. The stuffing was always good. I never used to like it when I was a kid, I was scared of it. I’m like ‘oh, this is gross, it has green things.’ Ooh, and sweet potato casserole too, with the marshmallows on top.”

Traditions: “My parents grew up in the same area in northern Maine, so their families live right across the bridge from each other. So we’d always go up there and we’d always have lunch at my mom’s parents and we’d go have dinner at my dad’s parents. So we’d have a lot of food.”
Favorite part of the meal: “I’d say the dark meat turkey with the gravy. My brother and I, we would always call the turkey legs. We’d have an 18-pound turkey and we’d get the big old drumsticks. So I’d say getting the drumsticks and also the wishbone. We loved the wishbone. You pull it apart and whoever gets the bigger half gets the wish and the wish will come true. That was always a highlight. I think we’d pull out of a hat to see who got the wishbone. That was always a fun time.”

Traditions: “Just going to my grandma’s house.”
Favorite part of the meal: “I’m actually having Thanksgiving dinner when we go to LA on our LA trip. Probably my favorite part would be the stuffing, the gravy, everything – it’s unbelievable. My grandma does a great job. My mom’s trying to learn how to do everything she does.”

Traditions: “Watch the Lions. That’s about it. Usually a disappointment. I always get excited for the Lions game and then I’m always like, ‘Ah they lost again.’ But no, it’s fun being from Michigan, they’re always on. Just think it’s fun getting together with some of the guys. We have the morning off so we’re going to go to one of the guys houses and just hang out and watch some football and stuff our faces for a day. It’s a cheat day for us so it’s fun.”
Favorite part of the meal: “Pumpkin pie. I like cranberries with turkey, but I have to go pumpkin pie.”

Traditions: “Just eat and watch football.”
Favorite part of the meal: “I’m a dessert guy. I mean, I’m not going to hide it.”

Traditions: “I guess stuffing my face and regretting it after.”
Favorite part of the meal: “I guess have to go with the chocolate cream pie afterwards. That’s probably hitting the spot.”

Written by Michelle Crechiolo and Joseph Guzy
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