“Yeah, pretty much with us leaving this Thanksgiving at 6 o’clock we don’t get much time,” forward Justin Abdelkader
said. “But my family is coming to the game tonight and we’re going to cook at my place tomorrow and Darren Helm
is going to come over, so we’ll have a little Thanksgiving meal before leaving.”
The Wings begin a stretch of three games in four days, starting tonight against the Calgary Flames, in what has been a huge Thanksgiving Eve tradition over the years in Hockeytown.
However, sticking a road game in the middle of the holiday weekend certainly puts a kink in things for the Wings. So just as America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade winds to a conclusion down Woodward Avenue and the Detroit Lions get set to kick-off against the undefeated Green Bay Packers at Ford Field, the Wings will conduct a short morning skate-like practice at Joe Louis Arena Thursday morning.
“Ever since I've been here I don't know how many (Thanksgiving Days) we've had off, how many we've had on,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We're going to skate in the morning (Thursday), have a pregame skate like you would game day at 10:30, hopefully get the guys out of here at 11:05 so they can be with their families until we fly out.”
For Abdelkader, who was born and raised in western Michigan, Thanksgiving Day always meant a trip to grandma’s house, mom’s pie and Lions’ football.
“It’s just time to celebrate family time,” he said. “We always went over to my grandparents’ house (in Muskegon), had turkey dinner and watched football. Football was always a big part of it. Always seems like we ate around the football game, but my dad and I would always seek around to see the game on TV to see the score.”
As for his favor holiday fare, mashed potatoes always topped Abdelkader’s list, but “turkey is always a hit, too, and my mom makes a peanut butter pie that always tops it off,” he said. “I was never really a big fan of the stuffing when I was growing up, but more or less I’ve been eating it more over the last few years.”
The Wings have four players who were raised on American Thanksgivings, but many of the Europeans have been in the U.S. long enough that they too have grown to appreciate the spirit of the holiday.
“The thought behind the whole tradition of bringing families together is just so great,” said defenseman Niklas Kronwall
, one of seven Swedish Wings. “And of course the meal itself is one big feast where people stuff themselves until they can’t move really. It’s a great tradition.”Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill