DETROIT – Julie Draper is going to be the busiest she’s ever been in the kitchen this Thanksgiving.
“It’s going to challenge my wife, no doubt, but she’s up for it,” Kris Draper said.
The Drapers will hold their annual Thanksgiving Day feast today with the largest list of invited guests to date.
Draper said he expects up to 20 people to attend including Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm, Dan Cleary, Jiri Hudler, Justin Abdelkader, Jakub Kindl and Patrick Eaves.
“It’s become a great tradition for our family,” said Draper, who has been holding the annual dinner the last five years. “We have families over and they bring their kids and the younger guys come over. It’s a great time of year.
“It’s nice to be able to do it,” Draper added. “To have some of the younger/single guys over and have dinner. Watch some football. My son is probably the most excited one to play all these guys in mini sticks. He’ll play whoever wants to play. He’ll never stop.”
Draper said a 25-pound turkey had already been ordered. But he still didn’t know if another turkey order was going to be placed or if the second main course would be a ham.
“I’ll leave that up to my wife,” Draper said. “All I know is I’m getting turkey.
“We’ll have lots of food,” Draper added.
Hudler was playing in Russia last season and missed last year’s festivities.
“We don’t have Thanksgiving at Czech Republic,” Hudler said. “The tradition is we go to Drapes’ house. Kind of have a nice turkey meal and play mini sticks with kids in the basement. There’s a lot of action going on. It’s a lot of fun.
“(Julie) does a great job with the food,” Hudler added. “It’s going to be the same thing like years past. I’m so happy to have that turkey again.”
Hudler couldn’t stop talking about the turkey and the desserts.
“I don’t eat turkey that much, I’m excited,” Hudler said. “Drapes says it’s a big one this year. I told him I’m going to eat a lot so make sure he’s ready. I’m not eating breakfast that day. I’m going to be empty and ready to go.
“We get ice creams and cakes and stuff,” Hudler added. “It’s delicious. I love pumpkin pie.”
One of the biggest questions will be who will be sitting at the kids table.
“Usually Huds sits there and we have a place setting for Helmer and Abby as well,” Draper said. “We’ll see who pulls rank and gets to sit at the adult table this year.”
Abdelkader will sit anywhere.
“I’m just happy to go over there and have Thanksgiving,” Abdelkader said. “(Helm) was over there last year so he’s probably going to try and pull rank on me.”
Abdelkader didn’t attend last year’s feast.
“I’ll go, chat it up with the kids,” Abdelkader said. “I don’t care where I eat as long as I eat and leave with a full stomach.”
The oddest request at the dinner table comes from Cleary … white vinegar.
“You’ve got to try it,” Cleary said. “Put it on the turkey and mashed potatoes.”