Happy Thanksgiving everyone! James O’Brien, PHT’s American writer, shares his list of five hockey-related things for which he’s thankful. Feel free to add yours in the comments section, and we hope you enjoy the holiday, as well as tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Showdown between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, which airs on NBC at 1 pm ET.
1. Many hockey connections – Despite a snow-related power outage, I’m able to write this post thanks to a my hockey-loving wife, who thought ahead to get battery backup and a WiFi hot spot. She’s the most important person I’ve met through my fascination with the sport, but the list of interesting oddballs and/or kind souls I’ve come across thanks to a shared love of all things puck is as large as it is eclectic.
I’m certain many of you have enjoyed similar (and otherwise unlikely) friendships and relationships thanks to hockey, too.
2. Jaromir Jagr love – I remember a time when No. 68 was reviled for what seemed like some pretty dubious reasons (although Washington Capitals fans probably had a leg to stand on). Maybe chalk it up to his elder statesman status, but most of that disdain has dissolved into Teemu Selanne-style love for a veteran with staying power. Jagr gets bonus points for his unusual mix of self deprecation and self-aggrandizement. Not many people would embrace the Traveling Jagrs by showcasing a sense of humor and dropping the line, “They know who the man is.” Here’s hoping he pushes 50 at this level.
3. Knowledge is power – Finally, the game is starting to get a little smarter.
While we can quibble about “advanced stats,” subtle changes make the 2014-15 season more entertaining on a game-by-game basis. The phrase “less dump and chase and more controlled zone entries” sounds boring until it means more opportunities for players to showcase their skills and less monotony. There are still fights, yet there aren’t as many bland “staged” ones. That means the fights that do happen are more likely to actually be passionate, which will make them more entertaining too. (It also means that teams are shifting from fight-only enforcers to more talented fourth-liners, which means better hockey, too.)
All in all, this age of hockey enlightenment should mean that entertainment values will improve, which is good even for cranky traditionalists.
4. Patrick Roy vs. the world – Speaking of “old guard thinking,” few things have been as fascinating as watching Patrick Roy’s stubbornly insist that the Colorado Avalanche can survive employing their current strategies. Just search his name on Pro Hockey Talk and you’ll be treated to a delicious stream of delusions. It’s a real treat.
5. Roberto Luongo’s Twitter feed – It’s really the gift that keeps on giving.
This one really goes out to all NHL players who add a little humor and flavor to proceedings. We all appreciate any time you step out of “we need to take it one game at a time”-type quotes.
As far as O’Brien family-specific Thanksgiving food goes, I’d also like to express gratitude for pierogies. They’re just glorious.
There have been plenty of great #WhyImThankful submissions, including NBC’s own Mike Milbury:
Before we go, here are a few of the highlights from that #WhyImThankful series: