By Steve Kendall
Ten things for which I’m thankful in hockey this day after Thanksgiving …
- Getting to see Nicklas Lidstrom play: Even at 40, Lidstrom is still one of the best ever. Through a quarter of the season, Lidstrom is a candidate for at least three awards: Norris, Hart and Byng. Whether he can keep it up over 82 games remains to be seen, but the Red Wings and their fans are glad he came back this year.
- The Hockey Writers: Thanks to Bruce for putting together the Web site. Not only does it give me another place to write about hockey, but I also get to read the work of others throughout the United States and Canada.
- The fact I live near countless Division I college teams: Every weekend, I have a plethora of choices for top-level college hockey: Boston College, Boston University, New Hampshire, UMass, UMass-Lowell, Holy Cross, Harvard, Northeastern, Merrimack, Providence, Brown, Bentley, Connecticut and American International all within a 75-minute drive, with Dartmouth, Yale and Quinnipiac just a bit farther.
- Seeing Mark Recchi at the end and Tyler Seguin at the beginning: Mark Recchi has been a consummate professional for 20 years. At 42, he is still one of the hardest working forwards in the game and still scores goals when needed. Is there a better player for Seguin to model himself after than Recchi?
- Seeing three great offensive players at the start of their careers: I grew up in the Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman era of the early and mid-1980s, and it was incredible to watch. Today, we are lucky enough to see three great stars at the beginning of their careers in Ovechkin, Crosby and Stamkos. Enjoy it.
- Men’s hockey leagues: I still skate once or twice a week and play ball hockey two or three days a week. It’s fun, it’s competitive and it’s hockey. Not to mention the fact that I’ve got to see lots of the world because of the sport. What could be better?
- Cushing Academy: I live 15 minutes from one of the premier prep hockey schools in the country. I got to see the likes of NHL stars Tom Poti, Keith Yandle and Zach Bogosian, as well as BU star David Warsofsky and Ryan and Chris Bourque. I also watched US Olympians Erika Lawler and Meghan Duggan play for the Penguins.
- The Original Six: You would be hard-pressed to find better jerseys in any sport than the Bruins, Canadiens, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Maple Leafs and Rangers. Those six teams also provide more than half the game’s history, great players and great moments.
- The community of hockey: There is nothing else like it. Hockey is a giant family and like any family, we support each other. The NHL is filled with great humanitarians but so is every other level of the sport. I have been involved with several different sports but none compare to hockey.
- Pond hockey/backyard rinks: There’s nothing like skating outdoors on a cold winter day. I grew up doing it, and this year, for the first time, I am attempting a rink in my backyard. I’m sure Jack Falla would be proud!
(Steve Kendall is a freelance writer who has covered high school, junior, college, and pro for various publications, including The Boston Herald, The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and New England Hockey Journal. He also blogs at puckdroppings.com/hockeybloginamerica.)