Ellen Etchingham, Backhand Shelf
Hockey nerds - You know who I'm talking about: the people who can name the third line center on the 1968-69 Golden Seals or can throw together awesome charts tracking trends in goalie save percentage over the past twenty years. The people so into hockey that even the shirtless die-hards with body paint and foam hats think, man, that person is unhealthily obsessive. But insane or no, they've forgotten more about this glorious game than you will ever know, and they always have the best stories.
The durability of the Montreal Canadiens - People become fans of a team for many reasons, but some reasons are better than others, and one of the best reasons to be a Habs fan (other than the deep cultural resonances, bat[poop] local media landscape, constant opportunities to fight about language politics, and 24 Stanley Cups) is the sense of permanence. With the lockout and talk everywhere of relocations, expansions, contractions, and God knows what other crazy schemes, the NHL is in a state of ugly upheaval right now. But my team was here before the NHL and it'll be here still when Gary Bettman is cold in his grave. That thought keeps me warm at night.
Playing - Watching hockey is great, but it ain't nothing compared to playing hockey. In the year since I started skating regularly, I've learned more about the game than in the whole rest of my life put together, and lately every new shift brings new revelations about strategy, skills, positioning, or the nature of the universe. The best part, though, is that if you play, there is always hockey. Screw buying it from the NHL; these days I make my own.
Dave Lozo, NHL.com
Big days - Man, I love big days. They are so much better than small days or regular-sized days. I love me a morbidly obese, cut-the-walls-out-of-your-home-to-remove-it, massively, gigantic day. The kind of day that's so big that its love handles have like handles and the like handles have indifference handles and the indifference handles have the faint odor of barbecue sauce and shame on them. But you know what's even better than a big day? ANOTHER big day! It's like, you think to yourself, well, we just had a big day so how can we have another big day? Then BOOM! Another big day! Then another! And another! Thanks, big days! Keep'em coming!
Sad PA announcers - You know how when the home team scores a goal, and the PA guy announces it as though the goal is the greatest thing that's ever happened in Earth's history? Like he just discovered a way to take calories out of bagels and allow your dog to talk? Sure, that's great, but that's everyone. What I love is how that same guy or gal will do the sad, broken voice for goals by the opposition. Some are better at it than others, but the PA guys or gals who announce a goal by the other team as if they are speaking softly at the grave of their husband or wife are the best. "Maple Leafs goal his third of the season scored by...scored by...I just miss you so much and so do the kids." The first person to sniffle and sigh mid-announcement wins my heart forever.
Jack Black's goaltending - The movie "Airborne" needs no introduction, but there's one scene I love more than any of them. It's when new kid and chill brah Mitchell Goosen has a chance to make friends during the preps vs. poor kids ice hockey game. Only the fast-paced life of Cincinnati gets Mitchell turned around and he scores the winning goal on his own net. Everyone, naturally, hates him. But really, the goal was Jack Black's fault. Mitchell shoots the puck from around center ice, and he shoots it like a drunk guy during an intermission contest. The only clip I can find is at the 40-second mark here but you don't see the puck beat Black, who is not ready for the shot and likely daydreaming about being unfunny for the next 20 years. I'm thankful for this movie and that scene, but I'd be more thankful if someone would upload it to YouTube.
The Days of Y'Orr Gang (Justin Aucoin, Greg Ezell, Robb Pizzuto, Jon Fucile & Patrice Purrgeron)
All the Tim Thomas jokes after Election Night - Because there's nothing easier than a Thomas/Obama joke, except for Bryzgalov's five hole... and, ok, maybe that Bryzgalov joke.
Halo 4 - Because it is distracting us from the fact we have no hockey.
Kevin Paul Dupont - For giving us something else to bitch about since we can't complain about the Bruins appalling PP.
Jeremy Jacobs - Because AHAHAHAHAHahahahahaha ha heh heh ha meh.... what a jerk.
The Bruins PR Team - Because this. And reasons. Many, many reasons.
Josh Gold-Smith, Producer, Marek Vs. Wyshynski podcast
@RobotJeffMarek — This recent Marek vs. Wyshynski gag is still in its infancy, but it's programmed to entertain us for years to come. Capturing Marek's encyclopedic knowledge of random Western Hockey League forwards from the '80s and California Golden Seals alike, Robot Marek has the same mancrush protocols and everything. Just make sure you don't use the wrong voice when telling your friends. Now, if we could just get @DrunkBillDaly and @DrunkSteveFehr going (hint hint), we'd be all set.
Fine Reporting and Analysis Perfectly Counter-Balanced by Hijinx and Shenanigans - Following the lockout on Twitter can be pretty depressing, which is exactly why I'm especially thankful for all of the brilliant comedians in the hockey world. There's something about hockey bloggers and writers when it comes to cracking wise. Maybe it's out of necessity (although pre-lockout comedy was almost as good), but if that's the case, the lockout has been a blessing in disguise for levity's sake. Sure, there are dozens of hard-working intrepid reporters to rely on, but just when it seems we're about to be inundated with more heavy news than we can handle, hockey's Friars Club delivers. I don't want to start dropping names, because inevitably, I'll leave someone out. But where would we be without all Twitter's hockey comedians? I'm glad we'll never have to find out.
There Are Other Things To Talk About Besides the Lockout - Lastly, I'm most thankful that we can do a hockey show three days a week and barely even mention the lockout, unless there is specific news to update and analyze. On Marek vs. Wyshynski we have done entire shows without mentioning the lockout once. If we had to talk about the lockout constantly, we would go certifiably nuts. As it turns out, there are other ways to talk about hockey without talking about the work stoppage that has placed another season on the brink and put thousands of livelihoods in jeopardy. Hockey is a game. It's fun. And as soon as you remember that, you can enjoy it regardless of how much, or how little, the league and its players want to bring that game back.
Laura Astorian, SB Nation and Puck Drunk Love
The Blues Winning the Central Division - It was a great validation that the youth movement and the steady building that the Blues've been using for the last six or so seasons worked. It's hard to not feel hopeful about next season, whenever that might be. Of course, as well as the Blues did after the last lockout, it's hard to not be terrified, too.
David Backes - Sure, he leads by example on the ice and is a Selke nominee, but what really makes me thankful for him is that a guy who can wear the Weenie Hat "with relish" is also one of the smartest guys in the game who is currently pretty involved with the NHLPA's side of the CBA negotiations.
Bill Daly's inane statements- Every time Daly opens his mouth I'm pretty sure that most hockey fans would like to punch something, but I find it all humorous. Maybe it's being on the receiving end of some "you don't know what we did to save the Thrashers!" e-mails (guy needs to learn the difference between "reply" and "reply all"), but I just find them hysterical in their defensive buck-passing. That's either a sign of being a sadist or a cynic, I guess.
The Gwinnett Gladiators and Kennesaw State University Fighting Owls - Sure, there's no NHL hockey in Atlanta any more, but the Gladiators are always fun to see and are usually competitive. The 15-0 Owls of the ACHA are located literally five minutes from me, and five bucks gets you a very crowded (and occasionally fire-code breaking) evening of fun. I'll take it.
My extended hockey family - The Internet's a godsend for flaming introverts like myself, and the best proof of that are the great friends I've made thanks to our wonderful sport. Former Thrashers fans, my friends at St. Louis Game Time, and countless fans of teams that aren't mine (even some Red Wings fans!) are all great people and I'm better for knowing them.
Don Cherry on Twitter - Don Cherry's Twitter account seemed forced at first, but recently I've enjoyed his multi-tweet observational riffs on archaic media like newspapers and voicemail. Cherry's Twitter feed is the comedy love child of Jerry Seinfeld and Abraham Simpson and unpleasant visual aside, that's just awesome.
Call the Union - Every few days I see someone in my feed tweet out "Calll the Uuuuuunion" and know for sure that the song is lodged in their head like a bullet.
NHL Game Center - There is nothing that makes me miss the NHL quite like watching hockey on "AHL Live". The AHL Live product is brutal: there's no highlights, sometimes the games are blurry and occasionally the feed loads so slowly that I might as well be watching two guys with dial-up play an on-line game of NHL13. So yeah, somehow the lockout has made me even more thankful for the NHL's affordable and reliable Game Center package.
The NHL Lockout - it could be worse, you could be watching a St. Louis Blues game!
Jeff Marek, Marek Vs. Wyshynski and Hockey Central
The #MvsW podcast - Hands down the most fun I've had in media. For me its like therapy; I learn and I laugh. I get the same high off it that I get when I run, workout, do yoga, whatever. Plus it breaks every rule I've ever been taught about media don't let your listeners write your punch lines and always be the authority. But after doing this podcast for a year we've realized our listeners are both smarter and funnier than us. It's true, Wysh. Oh, and probably better looking too.
Canadian junior hockey - My first hockey love. Small town rinks, bad coffee, old Zamboni fumes. I'd go to a junior game every day if I could.
Scouts - The lifeblood of the industry and some of the best people you'll ever meet. Oh, and the most cynical too. Is there anything better than scout speak? The kid shows promise but he lacks focus. Nice hands but he's got bad boots. We took him in the second round and now he's peeling onions. Making my GM cry. How's the new kid looking? Hasn't pissed a drop in two periods. I love 'em. Do yourself a favour and watch a game with a scout. They're the guys in the corner of the rink all wearing black. Fellas, there ARE other colours you know?
SIHR - The Society for International Hockey Research. Its my hockey geek club. In what other club could you learn about the history of Freemasonry in the Hersey Bears organization? Conversations I have with Paul Patskou and Kevin Shea from SIHR are cherished.
Stouffville, Ontario - Where I live now is really Hockey Central. NHL/CHL/AHL/ECHL hockey families all around me. Plus, our new house has a barn in the backyard so if any NHL GM wants to roll up his sleeves with a colleague Im sure hell find my rates reasonable.
The Morningstars - My men's league team. Rock stars, actors, dope fiends and booze hounds. We won 3 regular season games last year and somehow managed to win the league title. I love each and every one of them.
TJ - My 2-year old son is obsessed with the game. Right hand shot, draft eligible 2028. Nothing better than coming home after a late night at Sportsnet, checking in on his room and seeing him asleep…with his hockey gloves on.
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