How are the Capitals spending this Christmas?

How are the Capitals spending this Christmas?
December 25, 2013, 5:30 pm
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Ovechkin on 400 goals: "It's a big number"

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

A year ago, the only thing NHL players wanted for Christmas was to play hockey.

This week, they’re actually benefitting from one of the demands they made in their new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

They have off the day after Christmas.

“That’s the one good thing that came out of the lockout, getting an extra day off for Christmas to spend time with family,” Capitals left wing Jason Chimer said.

Chimera and his wife, Sarah, are spending Christmas with their two children.

“Christmas has a whole new meaning when you have kids,” Chimera said. “It’s fun to see their faces around the holidays. They’re a perfect age. They’re all excited. We’ve been using the Santa Claus factor lately for them to be good.”

Chimera said he still has the Christmas stocking he had when he was a boy growing up in Edmonton, but he’s not the only Capitals player preserving a family holiday tradition.

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Joel Ward says he’d someday like to switch up one of his.

“I’ve never had a real tree,” said Ward, who is spending his Christmas in New York City with his girlfriend. “We’ve always done the old fake tree. Drag it up from the basement with the ornaments still on. We still have the same candy canes on from previous years. I would like to maybe try a real tree.”

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, who is from Gavle, Sweden, and goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who is from Usti Nad Labem, Czech Republic, celebrate their Christmas on Dec. 24 with traditional dishes.

Backstrom said he and his girlfriend, Liza Berg, feast on Swedish meatballs, sausage, omelettes and salmon on the night before Christmas. This is their first Christmas as parents. Liza gave birth to the couple’s first child, Haley, in October.

“It’s real exciting,” Backstrom said. “She’s still tiny but it will be fun for her when she grows up.”

Neuvirth also had plans to celebrate the holiday with his girlfriend with traditional Czech meals.

“Chicken schnitzel and potato salad,” he said with a smile. “We open our presents on Christmas eve.”