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Family's all that matters at Christmas

by Andrea Nelson / Detroit Red Wings
Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser is excited to spend the league's Christmas break with family like his young niece. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

DETROIT – When asked about his favorite Christmas memory, Danny DeKeyser took a few seconds to ponder in his thoughts.

The moment that stood out the most may not be filled with presents, holiday cookies or Santa Claus, but it’s one many Detroit fans can relate to.

“I guess it’s not really a good memory but sometimes when the Lions are playing on Christmas Eve or on Christmas we’ll watch them and usually they’re done and out of the playoffs,” DeKeyser said. “But one year a long time ago they were playing the Bears and they lost on a last-second field goal of course to miss the playoffs.”

One of the defenseman’s teammates just happened to be eavesdropping.

“That’s your best Christmas memory?” Brendan Smith chimed in from a few seats down.

DeKeyser had to laugh. “I don’t know why that sticks out but that’s one of them that pops in my head.”

The youngest of seven children, DeKeyser will celebrate Christmas this year at his aunt and uncle’s house, spending time and reminiscing with an abundance of siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“There’s a ton of people,” DeKeyser said. “My dad has a big family and so does my mom, they both had a lot of kids in their families too so lot of aunts and uncles, a lot of cousins, it’s crazy.

“They (siblings) live around here so they’re here all the time, they come to games and that kind of thing and they’ll be at Christmas with the rest of the family and it’ll be good to see them.”

With three older brothers and three older sisters, the defenseman admits he was slightly doted on growing up, but there was one gift he always looked forward to finding under the Christmas tree.

“I always used to ask for sports video games so when I was younger I used to always get that, the newest NHL game or the newest NFL or NBA game,” he said. “I asked for those every year.”

This year, DeKeyser only asked for one thing: to spend the holiday with his family, the most important people in his life.

“I actually didn’t ask for anything just that I could see the family this year and that everybody would be around,” DeKeyser said. “We’re all older now and you know how that goes, everybody has jobs and that kind of thing where you’re working right up to the holidays a lot of times so hopefully I’ll just be able to see everybody.”

Even though there wasn’t anything on his Christmas list, the defenseman did receive an early present, as he returned to Detroit’s lineup Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs after missing 15 games with a separated shoulder. DeKeyser recorded one assist, two shots and one hit in the Red Wings’ 5-4 shootout victory, and couldn’t have imagined a better gift than to return to the game he loves.

“I don’t think I could, that’s a pretty good one right there,” he said, “and I’m excited to be back, I’m happy.”

It’s one more thing he has in common with Detroit fans: they’re happy to see him back on the ice, too.

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