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NHL.com staff writers share reasons to be thankful

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

In the spirit of the holiday, we asked nine writers for things they are thankful for when it comes to the hockey world during the 2022-23 NHL season.

Here, in alphabetical order by writer, are their answers.

Centers of attention

Here in Boston, it might be easy to guess what I’m thankful for: a return engagement from two centers who are making the Boston Bruins fun to watch and cover this season. There was no guarantee that Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci would come back 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 conceivably 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 back in 2011. — Amalie Benjamin

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

Success in Seattle

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

Strides in diversity

I’m thankful to see increased diversity in NHL front offices and coaching ranks. Mike Grier became the League’s first Black general manager when the San Jose Sharks hired him in July. The retired NHL forward earned the job after serving as a hockey operations adviser 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 aspirants who were the subjects of the “NHL Bound” YouTube docuseries, are working their way up the ladder. Brooks was hired by the Arizona Coyotes as a skill development coach in July. The Toronto Maple Leafs named Abercrombie, a Hockey Is For Everyone alum from Washington, as a coaching development associate in September. — Bill Douglas

Timely turnarounds

I’m thankful for 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 out of the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference last season to the top of 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 goalie. 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 Gullitti

All-access pass

I’m thankful for full NHL locker room access 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 starring in the NHL in 2020-21 and 2021-22 never experienced the media in the locker room. I’m not sure how players really feel about the return, and we’ll probably never know, but I think I speak for all my colleagues in that league-wide coverage is much better off with it than without it. Not only is it a great time to gather different angles for stories, but locker-room access is traditionally a time to connect with players in a way that’s impossible to do via video conference or the traditional phone call. — Mike G. Morreale

Thanksgiving tradition

I’m thankful for a relatively new Blackhawks trend: the Friday-after-Thanksgiving afternoon game. It replaced another tradition, the “Circus Trip,” a two-week jaunt (usually) through Western Canada and California that kept them on the road for Thanksgiving. So, 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 out of that post-Thanksgiving tryptophan slumber than with some afternoon hockey at the United Center? — Tracey Myers

New normal

I’m thankful for packed arenas and fans being fans again. I know we had it last season, but it came with trepidation, the nagging COVID-19 concern we all felt. It feels like that is gone now, that we are fully back to normal and that fans are enjoying being fans again. There were those dark COVID days when NHL teams played in empty arenas. The games went on and that’s what we cared about at the time. The 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 awkward. I love my job and it’s a privilege to do what I do, but I didn’t want to be there for those games in empty arenas. Now? I can’t wait to go to games because I know it’ll be packed, and the energy will be the best there is in sports. Again, we had it last season, but it still felt weird. It doesn’t anymore. I’m so thankful for normalcy. — Dan Rosen

Making history

I’m thankful for the ongoing opportunity to explore and share the history of the NHL here, and on social media, TV and radio. The pandemic changed the world, and all of my work became long distance, connecting with the icons exclusively by phone. But during this month’s 2022 Hockey Hall of Fame weekend, I spent a few hours at a Toronto event 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 a part of the greatest hockey event in Canadian history. Handshakes had replaced dial tones and legends and fans were thrilled to be together again. It was glorious. — Dave Stubbs

Travel days

I’m thankful to be covering the sport I love full-time for a third consecutive decade, especially now that some semblance of normalcy has returned to everyday life. The coronavirus pandemic disrupted all our futures for a time, which makes the chance to resume where we left off, at least as best we can, far more precious. You appreciate the little things. Being in dressing rooms instead of doing the job via the dreaded video conferences. Reconnecting with colleagues, players, coaches, general managers. Having the privilege of going to places like Finland for the Global Series between the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets with teammate Shawn Roarke and reuniting with media members from Scandinavia who’ve 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 full arena to watch hockey. Never take those things for granted. I don’t, especially after what we all went through during the pandemic. — Mike Zeisberger

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