What are your favourite Christmas memories growing up around the team?
I know how lucky I was to be able to spend the holidays around the Oilers. Every year I looked forward to the skating parties with the team. I don’t know if it’s the same, but you got to get out on the Coliseum ice and then they had Santa there to pass out gifts and obviously take obligatory requests.
I have such vivid memories of getting to skate around with Mark Messier: we would hold hands and spin around in circles, so that he’d skate backwards and then he’d spin me and I’d skate backwards. Then there were the times spinning around with Steve Smith and I was trying to show off my figure skating moves, and almost bailed on my face. Good thing he was right there to catch me.
Those were the days, man. No worries about your skating abilities, no self-consciousness, just getting out there and having a blast… a stark contrast from my teen years. I wasn’t skating as much as a teenager, and of course, I didn’t want to look stupid, which of course I’m sure made me look more awkward and odd. My brother would be so excited, he’d be the first out there after the flood and all I could think was ‘if you fall you’re going to be soaking wet from the recent flood.’ I think we can all imagine that, and feel how uncomfortable that would be for the rest of the day.
As I got older, the players treated me as though I had matured. I hadn’t. I would say I was about 11 or 12 years old… so to be honest I was still pretty young. Kelly Buchberger had a young baby at the time, for sure under a year old. Of course, who can blame him, he just wanted a little downtime so he asked me to hold the baby when we were sitting on the ground waiting to go up and see Santa (we would all gather on the carpet and sit together and wait for our turn to get a gift and sit on Santa’s knee). I was never a babysitter, I wasn’t around a lot of babies, but I could do this right? Well, the tiny child started to squirm a little… And when I think back on that moment, what is the worst that could have happened? The baby slowly wriggled out of my arms and I picked the baby back up? Well, logic escaped me at that moment and I went into full panic mode and made my brother go tell Kelly and his wife that the baby was restless and they had to come to relieve me. He got about 7-8 minutes of downtime and I can actually remember the disappointment to this day 25 years later. We’ve worked on our confidence since then…. and just avoid babies.
How was everyone’s Christmas? I want to hear from you in the comments. And send more questions, pretty please.