Bruce Hamilton, Ryan Huska and Colton Sissons plus Zemgus Girgensons have three things in common - they all love hockey, are part of the Kelowna Rockets organization, at some level, and, lastly, won't be part of the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship in Ufa, Russia, during the holiday season.
Albeit for entirely different reasons.
Hamilton, president and general manager of the Rockets, decided against heading overseas for the annual showcase and instead will spend Christmas with family in Oklahoma City, where his son, Curtis, plays for the AHL Barons.
Hamilton had attended the past three world juniors - in Saskatoon, Buffalo and Calgary - but didn't have a vested interest this year, with no members of Kelowna's team competing in the tournament for the first time in a long time.
Huska, Kelowna's head coach, had served as an assistant with Canada the last two years, earning silver and bronze medals, but he wasn't included on the 2013 coaching staff.
Sissons, Kelowna's captain and No. 1 centre, was among Canada's hopefuls this year before suffering an undisclosed upper-body injury, believed to be a concussion, just prior to the junior team's selection camp earlier this month.
After getting hurt, Sissons was sent home to North Vancouver to recuperate. He's since resumed skating with his old midget team, the Vancouver Northwest Giants, according to his Twitter account.
Girgensons, a skilled forward from Latvia who was selected by Kelowna in the 2011 CHL import draft but has never played for the Rockets, wasn't released to the world juniors by the Buffalo Sabres and their AHL affiliate, Rochester.
Girgensons has suited up for 21 of Rochester's 26 games to date - tallying one goal, on Nov. 2, and five points. He was held pointless in Rochester's 6-5 shootout win over Binghamton on Friday night.
Asked if there was a chance of Girgensons playing for Kelowna prior to the Jan. 10 WHL trade deadline, Hamilton reiterated that ball remains in Buffalo's court.
"I know that I'll be in conversation with them once I'm back and find out what their plans are, then we'll adjust appropriately," Hamilton said. "But right now, we're operating like we're not going to have him."
Technically speaking, Kelowna has already made room for Girgensons by recently trading Slovakian winger Filip Vasko to open up an import spot on the roster. However, Hamilton said dealing Vasko to Red Deer for a bantam draft pick had more to do with Kelowna's current players than the potential of landing Girgensons. Red Deer has since flipped Vasko to Regina.
"I felt that (Cole) Linaker and (Austin) Glover were going to have more and more problems getting into games and I wanted those kids playing," Hamilton explained.
As for Sissons, who hasn't played since getting hurt in a 3-2 home win over Moose Jaw on Nov. 30, Hamilton said: "He should be at the world juniors, but unfortunately the incident occurred and he got bumped from the group."
Asked for an update on Sissons' status, Hamilton added: "He'll have to see our doctors on (Dec. 26) to see where he's at, but he should be ready to go shortly after he gets back (to Kelowna)."
For his part, Hamilton was looking forward to Christmas in Oklahoma City where temperatures topped 15 C on Friday but were expected to cool off over the weekend.
"It'll be the first time in four years that we're all together," said Hamilton, noting their daughter, Jill, also played a role in recent world juniors as an event planner for Hockey Canada, while Curtis played for Canada's silver-medallist squad in Buffalo in 2011. "Because it's not in Canada this year, she was freed up, so we decided we would come and spend Christmas with Curtis because they don't get a long enough break to go anywhere."