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Red Wings' non-Olympians got a break

by Michelle Crechiolo / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – While millions of people watched the Winter Olympics, many of the Red Wings that weren’t involved in the Games used that time to do everything but think about hockey.


Detroit’s non-Olympians made the most of their opportunity, traveling everywhere from Winnipeg, Canada, to Vine Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Kris Draper and Chris Osgood took their families on a week-long vacation to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Their kids got a four-day break from school, and Draper said it was worth every minute.

“I’ve been away with the Osgoods before, both of us only had our oldest children then,” Draper said. “But this one, it was fun. We had a range (of kids) from 14 years to 21 months. We had a lot of laughs, it was a well-needed vacation, so it was good.”

Defenseman Brad Stuart didn’t travel anywhere exotic, but did spend time with his family, traveling to San Jose. Stuart, who was drafted third overall by the Sharks in 1998, spent his first six NHL seasons there and still has a home in the area.

The break was much needed by Stuart, who was averaging 23:43 in ice time before the Olympics. Even though he spent much of his vacation chasing after his two young children, he’s noticed that he has a bit more energy than he did going into the break.

“You come back and feel refreshed, mentally and physically,” he said.

Like Stuart, goalie Jimmy Howard was able to regroup and have a relaxing break, visiting his in-laws back in New York. Despite being a rookie, Howard has played in 44 of the team’s 63 games and has been instrumental in their push to capture a playoff spot.

“It was good just to get away and not think about hockey for a couple days, to pretty much relax and have some fun,” Howard said.

Patrick Eaves, who sustained a sprained ankle before the break, used his time to recover on a five-day trip to Mexico.

He and his wife visited the Vine Riviera Maya, with a side trip to Chichen Itza, which was the highlight of their vacation. Chichen Itza is home to the ancient ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, built by the Mayans.

“We went on a sightseeing day to Chichen Itza,” he said. “It was about a three-hour bus ride to get there, and it was by far the best part of the trip.

“I’m ready to go now. I’m rested and looking to make a strong push here at the end.”

Young players like forward Darren Helm and defenseman Brett Lebda took advantage of their time off to visit Las Vegas. It was Helm’s first time to the Entertainment Capital of the World, and he was excited to “feel what everybody’s been talking about.”

While Helm didn’t win much at the poker tables or slot machines, he had a good time with his fellow vacationers. The travelers consisted of Helm’s hometown friend from Winnipeg, along with Lebda’s brother and some of their friends from Chicago. After their three-day trip, both players were able to return home and visit with their families.

“I saw my family and I still have lots of friend back home, so it was nice to see all those guys,” Helm said. “They can’t really make it here that often … so it was definitely great to see them.

“It’s great just to get away from the game, get your mind off everything. It gives you a chance to get away and recharge and get ready for this last stretch.”


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