Braden and Taryn Holtby remain close, despite the distance between them. (The Canadian Press)Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby has a lot of things on his mind. The Caps are struggling at the bottom of the NHL's Southeast Division and have a couple of games later this week against the New Jersey Devils.
Holtby, though, still finds time to think about his sister, Taryn, who is curling at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. The bond between the brother and sister is strong enough to shrink the distance between Kingston and Washington.
To watch games Braden has had to sneak down to the Capitals training facility.
"We unfortunately were on the road for the first few days," Braden said in a telephone interview. "I was checking for live updates and the scores.
"I know we get TSN in the dressing room. I have to go in there at night and make sure to catch the later games."
Taryn, a 24-year-old veterinarian in Lloydminster, is the second on Team Saskatchewan. She is 14 months older and about a foot shooter than her six-foot-one brother.
The two are more than siblings. They are best friends.
Mother Tami Holtby watched the bond form on a farm near Marshall, Sask.
"They did everything together," said Tami, who has been attending the Scotties this week. "They really were best friends.
"They still are today.''
Taryn and Braden have communicated by text messages during the week.
"Sometimes it's fairly simple," said Taryn. "Sometimes it's a pretty darn good speech."
Braden likes to keep in touch.
"I've congratulated her after a game," he said. "I don't want to be too much of a hassle. She has enough going on in her mind already."
Prior to the Scotties, Braden sent Taryn a message of encouragement.
"It was a long speech," Taryn said. "It was encouragement, talking about playing every game, the small ones just like the big ones. He said the shots haven't changed and make the moments last."
Braden said the message wasn't all that complex.
"I told her to relax," he said. "Just keep having fun.
"She worked hard and deserved it. Just have fun. Enjoy it."
As a teenager Taryn was fascinated by the goaltender coaches and sports physiologists who worked with Braden.
"She was always interested in that," he said. "She quizzed me to get information. She is a student of everything. She loves to learn.
"She probably the smartest person I ever met."
When Braden struggled with his career it was Taryn who would offer comfort and advice.
"She was always there with my parents to support me through games," he said. "I would get very down after games if I played bad.
"She was always there to cheer me up. That part was something she probably doesn't realize. She helped me a lot."
Tami never was sure what was said between the two.
"They keep a lot of what happens between themselves," she said. "I know he would talk to her lots, especially when he was younger, if things weren't going well.
"I don't know what she said to him. It seemed to help all the time."
Taryn said Braden was always there to buttress her when she played sports.
"He knew what to say," she said. "He didn't sugarcoat it.
"He would pick me up, say what you did good and bring back confidence. A brother knows what to say."
Braden admits his sister can irritate him.
"I don't know how she can be so nice all the time," he laughed. "It used to frustrate me when we were growing up.
"She would never get mad at anyone. It taught me a lot about how to live your life. The attitude she had all the time, she was so positive."
Taryn understands she has a very unique relationship with her brother.
"It's fantastic," she said. "You hear about lots of sibling rivalries, or siblings that don't get along. It was never like that.
"I wouldn't give him up for anything. I love him to death."