TAMPA — Thanksgiving has always been a special time for Lightning defenseman Zach Bogosian.
Growing up in Massena, N.Y., as one of 13 first cousins, he and his family always had a lot of people around the table.
It’s part of the reason he and his wife, Bianca, invited his teammates to their Davis Islands home for Thanksgiving dinner this year. They were expecting around 25 adults and nearly half as many kids.
“It’s fun when you get a chance to get everyone together and all the kids and everything,” Bogosian said.
Bogosian had planned to have two 16-pound turkeys — one grilled and one from the oven — a ham, stuffing and other traditional dishes. Guests volunteered to bring plates.
Bogosian was particularly looking forward to grilling a turkey for the first time. A friend who is a master chef from grill company Trager sent Bogosian videos and tips to help him prepare.
The picky eaters — Bogosian said there are a few but wouldn’t name anyone — will have to fend for themselves, he said.
“I’m just going to let them figure it out,” he said, laughing. “There’s a ton of food. You eat what you want to eat, and that’s that.”
The get-together is something players couldn’t do last season because Thanksgiving fell during the offseason under the pandemic-adjusted schedule.
“There’s a lot of people that maybe don’t know the ins and outs of a hockey locker room in that they think team building is built within the locker room, which, obviously, it is to a certain degree,” Bogosian said. “But a lot of it’s like the off-ice bond away from the rink, getting to know people away from the game of hockey.”
“It’s important for our group to get together and keep building chemistry and our bonds and our friendships,” defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. “So we know how important that is throughout the course of the season, and so it’s a great opportunity for us to get together.”
For McDonagh, the holidays have grown more important with age and having children of his own: Falan, 5, and Murphy, 2.
“To see the joy and excitement on their faces for all the different holidays (is great),” he said. “The important thing is to put things in prospective of what the holidays are about, so you try to teach those lessons to your kids.”
Contact Mari Faiello at email@example.com. Follow @faiello_mari.
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