Hockey Living: NHL Players Summer Destinations

Host of the NHL Awards, the Wynn Las Vegas provides enough luxury for our hockey players. Photo by Barbara Kraft.

Hockey players, they are just like us. Taking so many hits takes its toll, and like us common-folk, they, too, need a respite away from the rink. As we take on rays, fire up those charcoal pits, this Labor Day weekend, let us reflect on the offseason vacation destinations of our NHL players.

The NHL Awards, in June, brought hockey players from all cities to Las Vegas. Where do you stay in Las Vegas? Answer: Anywhere, you’re gambling, you’re drinking, you’re winning Bill Masterson trophies. You can sleep anywhere, but the NHL would have you believe they were all staying at the Wynn Las Vegas and Encore Resort.

Hosted at the Wynn, the NHL Awards saw the likes of Ondrej Palat (Lightning), Tuuka Rask (Bruins), Manny Malhotra (Hurricanes), Ryan Miller (Sabres), and Claude Giroux (Flyers). Along with celebrity presenters such as Cuba Gooding Jr and David Boreanaz (Mighty Duck Forward Joshua Jackson was not in attendance). With 2,200 rooms to spare for attendees, players, their girlfriends, their girlfriends’ girlfriends, assistants, their bros, managers and agents.

The nights’ biggest winner, Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby, probably had to closely house his Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and Art Ross Trophy. Famous for its villa, resort and luxury suite packages, this paradise on the strip offers nine restaurants, six nightclubs— a favorite, Tryst, sits aside a pool of water streaming from a giant waterfall that turns into the water light show, Lake of Dreams. The Wynn Golf Club has 18 holes and the Esplanade Shoppes has designer shops.

Following the Stanley Cup to Slovakia, Marian Gaborik touted the ultimate trophy to audiences filing around a stage in Trencin. Hometown also to Bruins D-man Zdena Chara and Blackhawks Forward Marian Hossa, Trencin has seen its share of the Cup, twice by Hossa.

Trencin, population 60k (the ninth in populace), is a Slovak valley city along the Czech border. With a history stemming back to the Marcomannic Wars in 150 CE against the Roman and Ottoman Empires. Following its rise in the Middle Ages as a free royal city, to its eventual occupation by Nazi Germany; they were re-occupied by Russian forces and Trencin, Slovakia became part of the eastern bloc.

Despite its history, the city’s crown jewel is the Trencin Castle, erected in the 11th Century, the castle…

“…experienced not only war and terror, but also hosted Kings and Queens from almost all over Europe.”

A good portion of these royals were Czech, Polish or Turkish. However, the Castle, a symbol of history, is not accommodating to visitors. The Hotel Elizabeth located at its foothills would be a great recommendation.

I can only imagine with such bleak accommodations, a paltry 32 hotels, that Gaborik might have found himself at his own hotel. The Hotel of Marian Gaborik directly aimed at housing hockey players to attend the Hockey School of Marian Gaborik

“Offers 17 full air-conditioned 2-bed rooms…equipped with a shower, toilet, LCD tv and WiFi.”

Don’t worry hockey novices, there is a continental breakfast.

At 25-40 euros a night, this hotel offers a restaurant, a solarium, massage services, a fitness room, aerobics and, fittingly enough, an ice rink. A King with his Cup in the Hotel(/Ice Rink) of Marion Gaborik in Trencin. A perfect rags to riches story.

With close to half of the NHL’s player roster hailing from Canada, a good amount of downtime away is most likely spent visiting their families and vacationing along the rivers and green foliage in the land to our north.

Consider Edmonton, Alberta, according to the NHLPA, is home to the most Canadian hockey players. Nestled in the Canada’s west before the Banff Mountains, it lies north of Calgary. North of western Montana, Edmonton’s mild winter temperatures of -4 F provide the stamina needed for good hockey playing that is required.

Hometown to Mark Messier (Stanley Cup Champion), Mark Pysyk (Sabres), Cam Ward (Hurricanes), Dion Phanuf and Joffey Lupul (both of the Maple Leafs), Edmonton is affectionately known as “The Festival City.” Alberta’s capitol proudly hosts Edmonton International Fringe Festival – the largest in North America – in August, the Edmonton International Street Performer Festival, in mid-July, and directly after, to celebrate the old days of the gold rush, K-days, or Klondike Days in the 1960s, is Edmonton’s annual summer fair and exhibition, at the end of July.

For tourists, the Hotel Skelkirk offers a historical perspective for its guests.

“Includes admission to Fort Edmonton Park, Canada’s largest living history park. Enjoy a walk through the 1846 Fort Edmonton replica,…hop on a streetcar on 1905 Street, and ride all the way to the 1920’s Midway where you can ride the carousel…”

With 29 rooms, starting at $137 CAD per night. Unfortunately, the hotel closes its doors, September 1, for the winter, but it could be your next summer vacation, Labor Day people.

With roughly a million people, a third the population of the largest city, Toronto, the home of the Oilers has an incredibly rich history. Edmonton is also the “Gateway to the North,” providing a connection to Calgary through a Corridor as the main transport of the oil digging and diamond mining of the Northern territories. An industry worth $34.4 billion, the gas and oil industry has its share of controversy among environment groups.

Enjoying luxury in the bright cities, bringing glory to hometowns and harkening back to roots, our hockey players probably are enjoying a burger over their charcoal pit and getting one last ray of sun to end out Labor Day and enter a new season, enjoy yours!

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