What We're Thankful For
For starters, we're thankful that we get to follow hockey all day long and that you take the time to read what we've got to say. But there's a lot more that we love about the "coolest game on ice" that plays such a big role in each of our lives.
Susan Slusser: The thing that makes me most thankful about hockey is that the game rewards hard work and effort, unlike some sports (and real life), where sheer talent can mask loafing. The best teams work their behinds off. That's how it should be. Every time I watch a great hockey team, I am thankful that they are giving it their all. And if they don't, they're going to lose.
I am thankful for the increased use of visors, because I don't want anyone to lose their vision - or an eye altogether. And along those lines, I'm also thankful there is an increased awareness of the dangers of concussions - and I hope it leads to fewer head shots.
I am thankful that the best players in the world are in the NHL and that we can watch Swedes and Czechs and Russians, etc., and even some Americans on a nightly basis. It's a great time to be a hockey fan and I think we can all give thanks for that.
Christopher Botta: Thanks go to the Chicago Blackhawks for re-joining the league after a few years away. Nice to have you back and thriving for a long time to come. Thanks to Marian Gaborik and Michael Del Zotto for bringing the fun to Madison Square Garden. Thanks to the PR folks, including those with the Capitals, Flyers, Kings and Sharks for opening their arms to me and NHL FanHouse. Thank you to Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, John Tavares and Chris Kunitz for keeping my three young sons in love with hockey. (Yes, Chris Kunitz. They really like Kunitz).
I'm very grateful that an NHL franchise came to Long Island in 1972 when I was a mere lad and won the Stanley Cup during my attempts at ninth through 12th grades. I'm also thankful that in my new life on the media side, this team that plays five miles from my home gives me something to write about every day. They may or may not be successful in their attempt to rebuild into a contender, but let's face it: teams like Susan Slusser's Sharks don't play an important game until April. The Islanders play one 82 nights a year! One last New York thanks to the members of Islanders Country - one of the most underrated fan bases in all of pro sports.
Tom Mantzouranis: I'm thankful for Zach Parise for setting an example for what a player should be -- skilled, tough, motivated, respectful. I'm thankful to have such a fervent community of hockey fans. Together we endure the torments of other sports fans as well as the continuous missteps from the people that run the league we love. Yet hockey fans are never deterred, a relatively small but unequivocally enthusiastic group that reminds me why I love the sport so much when other parts of it get me jaded. I'm also thankful for the first round of the playoffs. While others understandably get excited about the Finals, the first round always comes at a time when New Jersey is just starting to get warm, when the sun starts staying up into dinnertime. There's nothing better than those first couple of weeks of deep spring -- having hopes of a 16-win excursion, the intensity of playoff hockey, while being able to roll the windows down again on the way to the Prudential Center, cruising down Mulberry honking your horn to the meter of "Let's go Dev-ils."
Bruce Ciskie: Thanks to the NHL for helping bring the game back to its roots with the Winter Classic. Nothing gets my seven-year-old jazzed to play outside more than the buildup to that game and the event itself. Speaking of the child, thanks to Alex Ovechkin for being awesome. I couldn't be more grateful for NHL Center Ice, which allows me to watch whatever game I want. It's always nice to be able to pick your announcers and find the HD feed of a game.
Adam Gretz: I'm thankful for the kid that sat next to me in first grade (even though I can't remember his name. Mike ... something) for introducing me to hockey when he brought his hockey stick to school for show and tell. And for Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey and Jaromir Jagr's mullet for getting me hooked on the game soon after that. I'm also thankful for the NHL eliminating the two-line pass, and for the greatest blogosphere of them all -- the hockey blogosphere -- that allows me to write about such a fantastic game and talk to some of the most down-to-earth, accomodating players in sports.
And goal horns.
Kevin Schultz: Thank you to my dad for introducing me to hockey and taking me to so many games when I was little. Thanks to Charles Wang for saving that team so I can still see them now that I'm grown up and thanks to John Tavares and the rest of the baby Isles for restoring some semblance of hope.
Thank you to the NHL's wacky point system and salary cap which give the league a ludicrous amount of competitive balance. Thanks to the folks behind the scenes -- game ops staffers, the mascots, concession workers, ushers, cheer squads and everyone else working in the arena -- who make going to an NHL game one of the best experiences in sports. And thanks to the fans, bloggers, commentors, readers and everyone else in the stands who makes this such a fun league and blogosphere to be a part of.