By the time you woke up on Christmas morning, Tomas Vokoun and his family had already given and received gifts.
That’s the custom in the Czech Republic – an early visit from Santa Claus and presents on Christmas Eve.
“We don’t wait till the morning,” Vokoun said with a chuckle. “That’s better. You don’t have to wait till morning.”
Christmas morning and the entire weekend off is a good thing for Washington Capitals players, coaches and many other employees, just as it is around the NHL. There’s a mandatory two days off as part of the collective bargaining agreement, so no teams are allowed to hold practices or even travel.
Vokoun went home to Florida to spend time with his wife and daughters, while Mathieu Perreault stayed in town with his girlfriend for the holiday.
“We have time with family, some guys spend time with their kids,” Perreault said. “It’s always good to get two days off too – it’s good for your body to regenerate and get some rest.”
Said coach Dale Hunter: It’s good for the family. These guys got kids and small kids especially. It’s a special time for young kids, so it’s good to be at home.”
The Caps will travel to Buffalo on Monday morning for their game against the Sabres, the only time this season they’ll go the day of a game.
But that’s OK for all involved – thanks to a couple days away.
“Christmas, at least for me, it’s still best holiday,” Vokoun said. “So I’ll always choose Christmas over New Years, for that matter. It’s nice to have a break.”