The Capitals have an overwhelmingly Canadian roster, with 13 of their 25 players hailing from the Great White North.
Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated the second Monday of October, but that won’t stop many of the Capitals from enjoying two American traditions -- turkey and football – today.
Right wing Troy Brouwer and his wife, Carmen, have invited the Caps’ single players to their house for some turkey and football today, and defenseman Karl Alzner and his wife, Mandy, are having an open house on Sunday for more of the same.
“I’m going to have a turkey at my place and we’ve invited some of the younger guys who don’t have girlfriends or wives to cook for them,” Brouwer said. “We’ve done it every year to give the younger guys a little holiday.”
Alzner said he’s had Thanksgiving feasts at his house before, but noticed that when the Caps have a game the next day – they’ll face the Canadiens at home on Friday at 5 p.m. – no one seems to eat as much. So and Mandy are saving their 21-pound turkey for Sunday.
“They don’t want to be too heavy the next day,” Alzner said. “We’ll wait until Sunday so we can really chow down. I’ll put it on the [locker room] board and whoever shows up, shows up.”
Center Nicklas Backstrom said Sweden does not have a holiday tradition that replicates Thanksgiving and he’s not a big fan of turkey or stuffing, but he’ll probably catch some American football with a teammate today.
Not left wing Jason Chimera, who is from Edmonton.
“Football?” Chimera said. “The [CFL] Grey Cup is over.”
We bounced around the Caps locker room asking players what they’re thankful for and here’s what they said:
Braden Holtby: “Everything. Great family, great job. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Michael Latta: “I’m thankful for everything. First year in the National Hockey League, I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Karl Alzner: “There’s nothing I’m not thankful for. I’m thankful for everything. A great family, everybody’s healthy. I play in the NHL, getting to do what I love to do. There’s literally nothing I’m not thankful for.”
Troy Brouwer: “My daughter, my family, first and foremost. To be able to do what I love to do. There’s not a lot of people that love their job as much as I’m able to. Just having a good close, family, grandparents, great grandparents, a really good support network.”
Alex Ovechkin: “Be honest with you, Russians don’t have that kind of tradition. I’m thankful for … [rookie Tom Wilson yells his own name] Oh yeah, I’m thankful for Willie. I’m thankful for you guys, for your support. You didn’t flush me. I know it’s a big day here and in Canada but in Russia we have New Year and on New Year’s we … get engaged. Get kids…what? Did I say that?”
For the record, the Caps’ roster is represented by five different countries:
Canada: Eric Fehr, Troy Brouwer, Brooks Laich, Aaron Volpatti, Jason Chimera, Karl Alzner, Joel Ward, Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Braden Holtby, Jay Beagle, John Erskine, Mike Green
United States: Steve Oleksy, John Carlson, Nate Schmidt, Jack Hillen
Sweden: Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Alex Urbom
Russia: Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov
Czech Republic: Marty Erat, Michal Neuvirth
Belarus: Mikhail Grabovski