(Ed. Note: It's Turkey Day here in the U.S., which means it's an untypical day here at Puck Daddy. Please join us in celebrating the game in some special posts today. Here are your friends from Puck Daddy and Yahoo! Sports with what we're thankful for. We give thanks to you, the reader, for supporting this blog.)
Greg Wyshynski, Editor, Puck Daddy blog
The Los Angeles Kings Twitter Feed — As awkward as things got between us during last season's Stanley Cup Final between their Kings and my Devils, I've got nothing but love for these twisted geniuses. Rightfully praised as one of pro sports' few social media outlets that knows how to speak to fans, and make us chuckle.
Rick DiPietro — Sure, there's a level of tragedy to DiPi's career. But no player manages to simultaneously be a cautionary tale about long-term contracts, building around a young goalie and the fleeting nature of a hockey player's health. Also, a guaranteed punchline. But much like the New York Islanders, if he ever finds a modicum of success, fans will embrace it. Even ironically.
Brandon Prust — Great on the Twitter machine, plays ball hockey with fans during the lockout, solid on '24/7' … on top of being a truculent two-way forward that's a heart-and-soul player. Overpaid? Eh, maybe. But he's the kind of personable gamer you're dying to have on your team.
Hockey Tumblrs — Most blogs have some level of journalistic intent, be it reporting or analysis. But hockey pages on Tumblr have this gleefully chaotic existence. Whether it's a .gif-tastic tribute to Jonathan Toews or That One Sad Guy, they're just [expletive] weird. In a good way. For goodness sake: NHL Players As Kids! Look at Geno!
Sean Leahy, Puck Daddy Associate Editor
NHL: For giving us seven uninterrupted seasons of growth in popularity and revenues and then taking one giant s&#+ on everything.
Other levels of hockey: A pleasant distraction from this CBA mess. The spotlight is now shining in their direction and the teams and leagues are doing their best to capitalize while they can.
"Call the Union": Had I not met Harrison Mooney prior to his unleashing that bit of whimsy onto the Internet, I may have declined any opportunity to do so, post-viral explosion.
Beavertails: Wysh and I devoured these glorious treats during All-Star Weekend in Ottawa last season. I was disappointed to learn it's a Canada-only product (for now, I'm working on it) (UPDATE: Apparently, it's not!), so if anyone is able to get a supply through US/Canada customs, please do contact me ASAP.
Puck Daddy community: Everyone who emails, comments and Tweets to us adds to an already fun experience. There's no better example of the Puck Daddy community at its best than when we hold a Photoshop contest (hey, we're due for one of those!) and you all bring your "A" games and keep building that comedy pyramid upward.
Harrison Mooney, Puck Daddy Associate Editor
Hockey hugs - Not the series, but actual hockey hugs. Hockey's goal celebrations are the best in sport, especially when they take place in mid-air or incorporate two men of wildly disparate height.
Two-on-ones - I know they say penalty shots are the most exciting play in hockey, but they're wrong: it's the two-on-one. Breakaways are exciting and all, but you add two other guys to the play and who knows what sort of nuttiness is about to go down? I mean, we all know how it's supposed to be played if you're that last guy: take away the pass and the centre of the ice and let the goaltender cut off the angle and handle the shooter. But it so rarely happens that way.
You Can Play - Patrick Burke's homophobia-fighting campaign is my favourite thing in hockey right now.
NHL games - Remember those? They were really something.
Hipchecks - There is nothing in hockey as beautiful as a perfectly-executed hipcheck. Not even Henrik Lundqvist.
NHLers in commercials - Most hockey players can't act, and I am thankful that commercial directors choose to overlook this and continue to put them in positions where this is hilariously evident.
@strombone1 - Roberto Luongo's secret-but-totally-not-secret Twitter account is one of the the best Twitter accounts in sports. The guy trolls real media and fake insiders, he makes poop jokes, he interacts with fans, he livetweets pedicures, and his half-assed effort to keep the account unverified makes the whole thing five times funnier than if he were up-front about his identity.
Puck Daddy - I think I said this last year too, but I love this blog. I love that I get to write for it, I love [most of] the people that read it. Heck, I've even warmed to the comments section. Except for that one guy. You know who you are.
Dmitry Chesnokov, Puck Daddy Senior Writer
Pavel Datsyuk — Don't call me biased, even though you may have a case for it. But every year I find out something new about this player. His great personality, kindness, humbleness translates so well on the ice. Watching him in person is something else — "Does he have any more tricks up his sleeve?" He sure does. Almost every game he plays is a highlight reel that you get to see every other day. When there is hockey.
The Cup — It doesn't matter if you're a journalist or a fan, a team owner or a player. There is something special, something magical about the Cup. Covering the Finals is an honor, a privilege and fun. Seeing pure emotions, spontaneous roars, energy of the arenas fills you in for the entire year. Until the next Cup Final. It will be a very empty feeling without one this season.
Shanahan Videos — Sometimes they feel like Brendan Shanahan (especially in his videos) has a contest with Jonathan Toews as to whose facial expressions will show no emotions the longest. Well, "as the video shows," the clips are great at providing the insight into what matters when the hammer hits and how hard it hits. The videos show that, very unfortunately, an injury — or lack thereof — still matters when suspensions are handed out. #Webering
Puck Daddy — Until you really know every one of the great people behind this blog, it is hard to fully understand what a great thing Puck Daddy really is.
Hockey Fans — Best ever. Enough said.
Nick Cotsonika, Yahoo! Sports NHL columnist
The money — Yes, the money. I'm not thankful that they're fighting over it. I don't think they should take it for granted. I'm angry that this is happening again. And I hate that so many people are priced out as they try to grow, grow, grow at the fans' expense because that's what the market will bear. But after seeing some pro hockey in Europe, I'm glad we have the economy and infrastructure in North America to support the world's best league — the world's best players, in the world's best arenas, on HDTV — for our entertainment.
Hardcore hockey fans — You'll be back, no matter what you say. They know it, and they're taking advantage of it, and that's wrong. But for all the talk about growth, for all the efforts to appeal to new fans, you are the bedrock upon which the NHL is built, in good times and bad. No one better forget it.
Bill Daly's e-mail account — He's candid. He's accessible. While commissioner Gary Bettman generally keeps a low profile — wisely — the deputy commish deals with the day-to-day garbage and doesn't always give canned responses.
PA outreach efforts — Holding charity games. Dropping in on minor hockey practices. Using social media to organize pop-up street hockey games with fans. Great stuff. So great, you're going to keep it up after the lockout ends, right?
The NHL is not hockey — The NHL can lock out the players. It cannot lock out the game. From the pro leagues in Europe to the beer leagues at the local rink, hockey is still being played, still being loved, still going on, CBA or no CBA.
Fun — Go to the rink. Bring your skates, or rent a pair. Play pickup, or just glide around at an open skate. Bring a buddy, or your kids. As I type this, the NHL and NHLPA are preparing for another bargaining session, but my sons don't know and don't care. They are off school and begging to just go skating — right now, today. That's what it's all about … or should be.
Darryl "Dobber" Dobbs, Puck Daddy fantasy columnist/Dobbersports.com
This is it - I'm thankful that this will be Gary Bettman's and the NHL's last lockout.
Allan Walsh on Twitter - The pro-union side needs a hardcore, no-compromise, full-blinders-on voice, and he's the loudest one this side of Adam Proteau. The pro-NHL side doesn't need a voice, we already know they're billionaires who have far bigger assets than their NHL investments.
Darren Dreger on Twitter - For giving his opinion despite hearing it on one side from Allan Walsh and on the other side from anonymous students on Twitter who pretend they have some sort of inside scoop.
Family - For keeping me busy, and happy, and of course - entertained. I have a one-year-old and a three-year-old I can spend more time with right now.
Ryan Lambert, Puck Daddy columnist
International competition — Who loves games in which the U.S. plays, I don't know, let's say, Canada, better than me? No one, that's who. Canada is terrible and America is great, everyone knows it. World Juniors are only like a month away. I'm already pretty psyched to wake up at 4 a.m. and yell at a bunch of Latvian teenagers. Go America forever.
The You Can Play movement — For all the wonderful things about it, hockey is, like pretty much all other sports, still not as inclusive as it probably should be. I've been to more than a few hockey games this year where the shockingly stupid guy behind me threw around homophobic and gendered insults at players or even other people in the crowd, and that's something I kind of can't believe is still happening in 2012. You Can Play, which hasn't even been around for a full year yet, has made significant strides in bringing to light the problems with this kind of language, and the way it makes gay athletes and fans feel. It's great to see it so embraced, by so many in the hockey world, but obviously there's still a lot of work to do. Off to a wonderful start though.
Twitter — The amount of time I spend laughing at stupid hockey jokes, and also I guess getting a lot of really great and informative news and opinions, on Twitter is extraordinarily (some would say unhealthily) high. Through Twitter I've gotten to become really good friends with a lot of people I like and respect throughout the hockey world, and one time an NHL goalie subtweeted me. What a cool thing.
College hockey — I probably say this every year but college hockey was my entry point to the sport and it's still pretty much my favorite kind of hockey, to see both live and on TV. I've met a lot of really great friends through this sport, like Twitter, and a few of them now write for College Hockey News, so why not give them a plug?
The lockout — I've gotten a lot of reading done so I'm way smarter now.