NHL.com staff writers share reasons to be thankful

The NHL.com staff has no shortage of reasons to be thankful this time of year.

In the spirit of the holidays, we asked nine writers what they’re thankful for when it comes to the world of hockey during the 2022-23 NHL season.

Here, in alphabetical order by author, are their responses.

Centers of attention

Here in Boston, it might be easy to guess what I’m thankful for: a return from two centers who have made the Boston Bruins fun to watch and cover this season. There was no guarantee of that Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci would return to the Bruins (and the NHL) this season, but each opted to put the spoked-B on for at least one more run — and, boy, is it proving to be worth it. The Bruins are arguably the best team in hockey right now and could potentially allow Bergeron and Krejci to ride off into the sunset with another Stanley Cup ring in their collections, adding to the one they won together in 2011. — Amalie Benjamin

Video: [email protected]: Bergeron’s 1,000th point on Marchand’s goal

Success in Seattle

I am grateful for the Seattle Kraken’s strong start. They were in a difficult position after the success of the Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural 2017-18 season, not to mention building an arena and organization during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the arena debuted beautifully and the organization looked promising, the Kraken went 27-49-6 in their first season, finishing 30th in the 32-team NHL. But they are 8-5-3, third in the Pacific Division, with additions like forwards Andre Burakovsky and rookie Matty Beniers. Not to troll here, but they also added a mascot. Atta-Buoy! — Nicholas J. Cotsonika

Steps to diversity

I am grateful to see increased diversity in NHL front offices and coaching ranks. Mike Grier became the League’s first black general manager when he was hired by the San Jose Sharks in July. The retired NHL forward earned the job after serving as a hockey operations consultant for the New York Rangers in 2021-22 and an assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils from 2018-20. Nathaniel Brooks and Duante Abercrombie, black coaching prospects who were the subject of the YouTube documentaries “NHL Bound,” climb the ladder. Brooks was hired by the Arizona Coyotes as a skills development coach in July. The Toronto Maple Leafs named Abercrombie, a Hockey Is For Everyone alum from Washington, as an associate development coach in September. — Bill Douglas

Timely turnarounds

I’m thankful for the teams that didn’t make the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season and have made turnarounds this season. The New Jersey Devils lead the way, jumping from 37 points from last season’s second seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs to atop the Metropolitan Division. Other examples include the New York Islanders (Lane Lambert) and Detroit Red Wings (Derek Lalonde) thriving under first-time NHL coaches and the Vegas Golden Knights with a rookie goaltender. Logan Thompson. The Winnipeg Jets have been one of the biggest surprises in the NHL along with the Kraken, who are playing exciting hockey in their second season. — Tom Gullitty

Full access pass

I am grateful for full access to the NHL locker room once again for writers and broadcasters after two full seasons without it due to COVID-19 restrictions. It’s amazing to think that many rookies who starred in the NHL in 2020-21 and 2021-22 never met the media in the locker room. I’m not sure how the players really feel about the return, and we’ll probably never know, but I think I speak for all of my colleagues in that league-wide coverage is much better with it than without it. Not only is it a great time to gather different perspectives on stories, but access to the locker room is traditionally a time to connect with players in a way that’s impossible via a video conference or traditional phone call. — Mike G. Morreale

Delivery of Thanksgiving

I’m thankful for a relatively new Blackhawks trend: the Friday afternoon game after Thanksgiving. It replaced another tradition, the “Circus Trip,” a two-week jaunt (usually) to Western Canada and California that kept them on the road for Thanksgiving. Well, I’m a big fan of this Friday game, which the Blackhawks have done since 2019. I mean, I’ve always been a fan of afternoon games, as I make clear on social media every time the Blackhawks have one. But what better way to wake you up from that post-Thanksgiving tryptophan nap than an afternoon of hockey at the United Center? — Tracy Myers

New normal

I’m thankful for packed arenas and fans who are fans again. I know we had it last season, but it came with dread, the nagging worry about COVID-19 that we all felt. I feel like that’s gone now, that we’re completely back to normal and the fans are enjoying being fans again. There were those dark days of COVID when NHL teams played in empty arenas. The games went on and that’s all we cared about then. Entertainment was what we needed. But as someone who frequents NHL arenas and who sat in an empty Madison Square Garden covering New York Rangers games, it was eerie and uncomfortable. I love my job and it’s a privilege to do what I do, but I didn’t want to be there for those fights in empty arenas. Now? I look forward to going to games because I know it will be packed and the energy will be the best there is in sports. Again, we had that last season, but it was still weird. It doesn’t anymore. I am so thankful for normalcy. — Dan Rosen

Making history

I am grateful for the continued opportunity to explore and share NHL history here, and on social media, television and radio. The pandemic changed the world and all my work became long distance, connecting with icons exclusively by phone. But during this month’s 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame Weekend, I spent a few hours at an event in Toronto where five members of Canada’s 1972 Summit Series signed autographs for fans. Yvan Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe and brothers Frank and Peter Mahovlich won a combined 34 Stanley Cup championships and were part of the greatest hockey event in Canadian history. Handshakes had replaced ringtones and legends and fans alike were thrilled to be back together. It was glorious. — Dave Stubbs

Travel days

I’m grateful to be covering the sport I love full-time for a third straight decade, especially now that some semblance of normality has returned to everyday life. The coronavirus pandemic has interrupted our future for some time, which makes the opportunity to pick up where we left off, at least as best we can, that much more valuable. You appreciate the little things. Be in the dressing room instead of doing the work via the dreaded video conferencing. Reconnect with colleagues, players, coaches, general managers. Having the privilege of going to places like Finland for the World Series between the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets with teammate Shawn Roarke and reuniting with media members from Scandinavia who have become close friends over the years. Not so long ago, we couldn’t travel to foreign countries, talk to people face-to-face, or go to a packed arena to watch hockey. Never take these things for granted. No, especially after what we all went through during the pandemic. — Mike Zeisberger

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