By Katherine McVeagh
As equipment bags get zipped up, the closing activities of the hockey season are completed and the off-season ensues. The players pack up their belongings, say their goodbyes and are off in a variety of directions for their summer reprise.
For hockey players, the summer marks the longest period of a break from competitive play. While every player’s summer involves time in the gym and on the ice getting ready for the upcoming campaign, they will spice up their time off with some form of vacation, relaxation getaway or time with family.
Christian Thomas, who logged more travel miles than any other Penguin during the 2017-18 season because of his addition to Canada’s men’s national squad, emphasized the importance of taking some time to regroup after a grueling season.
“I definitely take a couple weeks off,” Thomas said. “Probably two or three weeks, and hang out at home in Toronto then get back to the workouts.”
Anthony Peters echoes his teammate’s sentiments, saying that he plans to “kind of just shut it off and do a little R&R,” during the precious weeks where you actually get the rare opportunity to rest. Family time is an important part of Peters’ “R&R” period, too.
“I haven’t seen my family in a long time and haven’t seen my brother since last June,” Peters said, whose brother, Justin, plays pro hockey too. “It’ll be nice to see him and his kids and the rest of my family. To get home and see the family, that’s certainly number one for me.”
Seeing family members is great, and a lot of players will get together with old friends once they’re back in their hometowns, too. Many players cite attending friends’ and teammates’ weddings as a common offseason activity.
While they may be separated from one another for several months, the Penguins still keep in touch with one another during the summer. The team has a group text in which they share jokes, and many of the team’s members will communicate with one another during ongoing music festivals. Daniel Sprong, a big electronic music fan, says that he has no plans to attend any of the high profile concerts around Montréal or Europe this summer, but he’ll follow along online with his teammates.
“A lot of the guys are talking about all the festivals going on around the world,” Sprong said. “We’ll probably watch the streams on YouTube like we did for [Ultra Music Festival] back in March. We’ll be texting about it.”
Unfortunately for Anthony Angello, who is still enrolled at Cornell University, the summer break will not come until classes conclude.
“I’m going to head back to school,” Angello said. “I’ve got final exams and finishing up classes in the next few weeks.”
Beyond the classroom, Angello is the type that doesn’t spend much time unwinding, and prefers to get back into work mode as soon as possible.
“Honestly, I take probably about five days off and by that fifth day I’m just itching to get back into something,” he said. “I just have too much time on my hands. I don’t really know what to do with myself.
“I’ll maybe spend some time with the family, but then get right into training. I’m not going to waste any time.”
Two Penguins have particularly exciting events to look forward to this summer, as the wives of Jarred Tinordi and Tom Sestito are expecting children.
“My wife’s due for a second baby,” Sestito said, noting that the child’s due date is in August. “This one’s a girl. A boy, a girl, and now I’m done. That’s it.”
Tinordi, on the other hand, is just getting started. His wife are expecting their first child, also a baby girl.
“We’re excited, a little bit nervous, too,” Tinorrdi said. “My wife is due soon. We’re getting down to crunch time here.”
Whether players return from the summer rested, stronger, faster, or as new fathers, it is taken by all as a well-deserved break from the demands of the grueling hockey season.