The Penguins that didn’t travel to Sochi for the Olympics took advantage of their time off, with several traveling to much warmer climates.
“Got out of the Pittsburgh weather for a little while,” smiled defenseman Matt Niskanen, who went to the Bahamas. “Got some sun. Just mentally and physically to get that break at this time of year I think is the perfect time. Got to watch some entertaining hockey down in the Caribbean, that’s a pretty good combination. So come back refreshed and get ready for the last 20 games or so before the playoff.”
Besides the hockey, Niskanen said he didn’t do anything special while he was there.
“Got a sunburn. That’s about it,” he joked.
* The Caribbean was a popular spot for a few of the Penguins. Niskanen, Craig Adams and Deryk Engelland all traveled there, as did Marc-Andre Fleury – who went with his wife Veronique, daughter Estelle and sister Marylene.
But those Penguins weren’t the only hockey players who flocked there.
“I saw (former Penguin and current Hurricane) Jordan Staal, he was at a different hotel,” Fleury said. “We just texted each other and were like oh yeah, our hotels are right beside each other. So that was good. Had dinner a couple times with him. ‘Addsy’ was there too, not too far away.”
The trip marked the first big family vacation for the Fleurys with their baby Estelle, who turns a year old in April. And with how crazy the season has been these last few months, Marc-Andre was grateful for the break to get quality time with his daughter.
“It was good, and good to play dad a little more than I’ve done in the past while,” Fleury said. “It was fun, definitely different than my previous vacation(s). But it was a good time, though.”
Fleury had handled a huge workload going into the Olympic break. He had started 47 of Pittsburgh’s 58 games (tied for second-most in the NHL), recording a league-high 31 wins. That much playing time can take a toll, so Fleury was happy to abide by his 9-month-old baby’s schedule on their vacation, which consisted of a LOT of napping.
“The first few days, I was sleeping a lot. Napping and sleeping, so it was good. It was just mostly the baby’s schedule, I’d say,” Fleury smiled. “Ate, sleep. My sister was there so she babysat a few times. But mostly dinners. A few little excursions, like snorkeling. It was good.”
* Estelle Fleury may have been sleeping a lot, but Sawyer Glass’ parents kept him on his East Coast schedule while they visited Lisbon, Portugal and London, England, which meant he was awake later than usual.
“We had our little guy and we kept him on east coast time, so he was going to bed at midnight,” Tanner Glass said. “So he was coming to dinners with us and all the waiters and waitresses were really friendly with him and he was good, so he was a good baby to travel with. It worked out.”
Tanner and his wife Emily toted Sawyer around Lisbon with them, where they “did two days just kind of walking around the city, doing the sightseeing, touristy stuff around there. Checked out some restaurants. Then we did two one-day trips to little towns outside the city, little coastal villages, and kind of got immersed in the local culture that way.”
When the Glass family got to London to visit friends, they went to the Liverpool-Arsenal soccer match – which Tanner, a big Liverpool fan, said was an interesting experience, to say the least.
“It was really intense. Very intense,” he laughed. “The fans are just – everyone’s super knowledgeable and act like they know the game even if they maybe don’t. It was really cool to be a part of. We were sitting right in the middle of a really intense Arsenal section, so I kept my Liverpool jersey tucked away.”
Glass proudly showing off his Liverpool jersey as sneakily as he can
Glass' view from his seats
Glass with his wife Emily at the gameThanks to Tanner for the photos
* Another player who traveled with his family was Rob Scuderi. He and his wife Courtney surprised their kids Ryan, Brett and Kate with a trip to Disney World.
“They were pretty excited, to say the least,” he said. “We had a great time. It’s a pretty busy time, but it was a lot of fun. We’re glad we went.”
Their favorite part of the park, said Scuderi, was the Animal Kingdom.
“I think the kids enjoyed the Animal Kingdom the most, and I’d have to say I did, too,” he said. “I hadn’t been there before and it was pretty cool, you got to get pretty close to the animals and see some different things. So I thought that was probably our family’s favorite part.”
Family vacations can certainly be exhausting, but Scuderi made sure to cherish the whole experience.
“It’s a little different (being the parent). I’d rather be the kid crying in line than the person trying to deal with it,” he joked. “So it’s certainly changed in that dynamic. But it’s fun. There’s some moments you can’t have back as far as the kids’ ages go, so certainly my wife and I were glad that we could take them and that they enjoyed it.”
The Scuderi family at Disney World (thanks to Rob and Courtney for the photos)
* While a lot of the guys took family vacations, James Neal and Robert Bortuzzo traveled to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico together.
“It was good, just relaxed,” Bortuzzo said. “We were in a house, so we could kind of just lay low and feel like you’re not doing anything. Kind of just sit by the pool and relax and have fun. Played a lot of ping-pong and swam and just relaxed and got away from it a bit.”
One of the highlights of their trip was a deep-sea fishing expedition.
“I’d never done that before,” Neal said. “It was an hour and 45 minutes out in the middle of the ocean and the fishing was really cool. So it was something I always wanted to do and got to do it.”
Neal was quite successful his first time, catching a 300-pound marlin. However, he wouldn’t let Bortuzzo help him reel it in.
“He let me touch the rod for about five seconds,” Bortuzzo joked. “So he was the one who reeled it in. That was pretty cool. We were all going to reel it in together, but all I got to do was touch the rod and see how hard it was pulling. We got a picture with it, so that was pretty cool. All that stuff was good.”
Bortuzzo and Neal with the marlin that Neal caught (thanks to James for the photo)