There’s plenty to be thankful for in hockey in 2019
It’s Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. and it’s a quiet slate with only one game tonight. That leaves plenty of time for turkey, sides and lots and lots of dessert.
With it being a day to give thanks, some of the NBCSports.com NHL staff wanted to say what we’re thankful for in 2019.
Please do let us know what you’re thankful for in the comments.
Sean Leahy, PHT Writer
• Jaromir Jagr. He’s still playing hockey at age 47 and hopefully is able to fulfill his promise of playing beyond 50. His second tenure in the NHL ended abruptly thanks to injury, but No. 68 continues to give us a tiny slimmer of hope he may want to make another comeback before he hits 60.
• Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. It’s must-watch TV when those two are on the ice, especially in overtime when you know Dave Tippett is playing them for its entirety.
• Offside reviews. Because they continue to suck the life out of games and bring people over to the side of hoping one day a “no offside” policy is installed, helping bump up offense around the league.
• NHL teams going retro. Whenever a team brings back a retro jersey design that everyone loves, they’re basically saying, “Sorry for all those crappy ones we put out since we originally debuted these beauties years ago!”
• The spreading out of outdoor hockey. Who would have thought a decade ago we’d see an outdoor game in Texas? Maybe there’s one coming to Carolina in the year or two. Vegas? Florida? The league is expanding the list of areas that may host an outdoor game, which is a good thing. It’s a different vibe in person, a fun one, and more fans around the NHL should be able to experience that.
James O’Brien, PHT Writer
• I’m thankful for the Maple Leafs under Sheldon Keefe. They feel a lot like a wild turkey allowed to roam free after being caged for far too long. Will they eventually prove that they can fly? We’ll see, but it will be fun to watch them try.
• The sheer speed of Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon, and how even micromanaging coaches can’t really slow them down. They basically warp everything on the ice like Sauron on a battlefield.
Scott Charles, PHT Writer
• Dave Tippett. Connor McDavid is a generational talent and deserves to be playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs year in and year out. For too long, the Edmonton Oilers would miss the postseason preventing the most talented player from reaching his full potential. Every NHL fan does not have to root for the Oilers, but seeing the brightest star have the opportunity to play in the most critical moments is good for spectators of the NHL. Hopefully Leon Draisaitl and McDavid have the chance to add to Edmonton’s rich history.
• New Video Review Rules. I am especially grateful that coaches cannot challenge plays without weighing the risk of a penalty. In the past, anyone could challenge a play without any consequence and often requested reviews if the play was close and a call might go their way if the stars were aligned. However, now a coach must believe he is right before forcing a delay in the action.
Adam Gretz, PHT Writer
• I am thankful for Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith playing so good in the Edmonton net that we might finally get to see Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl play in the playoffs again and shine on the NHL’s biggest stage.
• Also for David Pastrnak leading the league in goals and actually allowing one of my bold predictions to finally come true.
Michael Finewax, Rotoworld Hockey Editor
• That the NHL and NHLPA decided in September not to reopen the CBA, allowing for NHL hockey to be uninterrupted through the 2021-22 season.
• That the person drafting first picked Nikita Kucherov this season in one of my leagues, allowing me to take Connor McDavid.
NBC Sports presents the 2019 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown this Black Friday at 1 p.m. ET on NBC, when league-leading goal scorer David Pastrnak and the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins host Artemi Panarin and the New York Rangers, marking the first of 12 NHL games that will air on NBC during the 2019-20 regular season.
Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Brian Boucher will call the 2019 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown. NBC Sports brings NHL Live on the road for Friday’s game, with Kathryn Tappen hosting studio coverage on-site from TD Garden alongside analysts Keith Jones and Mike Milbury.
You can watch a livestream of the game here.