With the long U.S. Thanksgiving weekend holiday weekend fresh in our minds, I thought I would take a few moments to share my thoughts on what the NHL member clubs are thankful for with just more than a quarter of their schedules in the books:
Anaheim: Lots of hockey yet to be played.
Atlanta: Ondrej Pavelec and Johan Hedberg, who are making the perpetually injured Kari Lehtonen expendable once he gets healthy.
Boston: Toronto’s first round pick in the upcoming draft.
Buffalo: M and M’s – Ryan Miller and Tyler Myers.
Calgary: The Sutter family reunion.
Carolina: The Leafs, so there is someone else challenging them for 30th overall this season.
Chicago: Being so talented and deep that being without Marian Hossa for two months made no difference.
Colorado: Craig Anderson and the unheralded youth rising to the challenge.
Columbus: Solid core group of forwards finding a way (while the goaltending struggles to find its way).
Dallas: The resurgence of Brad Richards to Conn Smythe form.
Detroit: The belief that, sooner rather than later, they will be able to ice a healthy squad.
Edmonton: Dustin Penner finally justifying the price the Oil paid to acquire him.
Florida: Pete DeBoer’s patience and even temperament, along with the hope that springs eternal with new ownership.
LosAngeles: Anze Kopitar, Ryan Smyth and Jonathan Quick, among others.
Minnesota: Having three-quarters of the season ahead of them.
Montreal: Being in the hunt while trying to develop team chemistry and dealing with a rash of injuries.
Nashville: Barry Trotz and his coaching staff consistently finding a way to win with the roster available.
NewJersey: Marty Brodeur’s water bottle being refilled at the Fountain of Youth and Hall of Fame GM Lou Lamoriello constantly retooling.
NewYorkIslanders: John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Dwayne Roloson and a solid head coach.
New York Rangers: Marian Gaborik and his “cousin Vinny,” along with outstanding young blueliners Michael Del Zotto and Matt Gilroy.
Ottawa: Life after Heatley, which has been pretty good thus far.
Philadelphia: Being the best-run franchise in the NHL with the league’s most passionate fans and a solid core of young players.
Phoenix: Life after bankruptcy and one of the NHL’s best coaches behind the bench.
Pittsburgh: GM Ray Shero, who found a way to keep the core together and provide the chance for another run while boasting two of the best young forwards in the game in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
SanJose: The regular season, a chance for redemption in the spring and freeing former captain Patrick Marleau to realize his tremendous potential.
St. Louis: The return to good health for Wendy Pleau, the courageous and inspirational wife of GM Larry Pleau. Thanks, Wendy, for helping us put things in perspective and getting our priorities straight.
TampaBay: Martin St-Louis’ heart, Steven Stamkos’ skill, Ryan Malone’s guts and Antero Niittymaki’s timely saves.
Toronto: The Canes, so their first round pick (see Boston above) won’t be No. 1 overall (unless Toronto “wins” the lottery).
Vancouver: The return of a healthy Daniel Sedin and the hope that Roberto Luongo once again becomes all-world.
Washington: Passion in the owner’s suite, behind the bench, on the ice and in the stands. Oh, and that Ovechkin guy, too.
Jay Feaster is a former GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he took over in 2002 and helped build the team into a Stanley Cup champion in 2004. As he did last season, he will blog on THN.com throughout the 2009-10 campaign. Read his other entries HERE.