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There’s plenty to be thankful for in hockey in 2021

hockey thankful

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 29: Gritty, the mascot of the Philadelphia Flyers dressed as a Thanksgiving Turkey entertains the crowd during the second period intermission against the Detroit Red Wings on November 29, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. and there is no hockey to enjoy 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 NHL on NBC Sports team wanted to share what we’re thankful for in 2021.

James O’Brien, NHL writer: It came far too late. And it’s probably only a sliver of the justice Kyle Beach and John Doe 2 deserve. But I’m still thankful that powerful people are at least experiencing an ounce of accountability. At times, it feels like injustices get rubbed in peoples’ faces, so every bit of progress counts. In the future, hopefully justice gets doled out in larger portions, though.

Adam Gretz, NHL writer: I am thankful that nearly every player and coach and staff member in hockey reached full vaccination status and that we have been able to have, so far, what mostly looks to be a normal looking NHL season with a normal schedule and fans. Missed that stuff and it definitely makes the games better.

Sean Leahy, NHL writer: I’m thankful for the highlights that players like Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau, Alex Ovechkin, Matthew Tkachuk, Mathew Barzal, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Cale Makar, and many others provide us on a regular basis. Hockey is a really fast game and what those players can do nightly is remarkable.

I’m also thankful that we’re back into a regular, full season. We started in October, we’ll probably end in late-June/early-July, but no more shortened seasons, weird playoff and divisional formats. It’s close to the routine we knew before March 2020. Hopefully there are no similar interruptions in the future.

Finally, I’m thankful the NHL is (hopefully!) going back to the Olympics. We need a best-on-best tournament every few years and if the World Cup of Hockey is not going to be on a regular schedule, having the top players compete for an Olympic gold medal will bring out some really good hockey, really early in the morning.


Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Getty Images

Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor:

• I’m thankful that fans are back in the stands.

• That the Canadian-U.S. border is now open for all four original divisions to return after the NHL went regional last season.

• Connor McDavid is so good and has a highlight reel play seemingly every night he plays.

• Everyone in management is now being held accountable.

• Gritty is able to see every team come into Philadelphia this season.

• Carter Hart is playing like he did in 2019-20 rather than last season.

• I was actually alive the last time the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup.

Jake Abrahams, Managing Editor, NHL content: I’m thankful for the NHL’s return to “normalcy.” After two consecutive seasons were substantially disrupted by COVID-19, it has been a hockey fan’s dream to have the regular 82-game schedule back in full force (and also the ability to go to games!). I’m also thankful that the NHL’s return to the Olympics is just a couple of months away.