Second City Giving Thanks.

Derek Leung

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Second City Hockey.

As those of us in the States are set for  the glutton's paradise we call Thanksgiving, I figured today was a good day to pull the Second CIty Hockey staff together in the true spirit of the holiday.  And yes, there is a staff and you will be hearing from more people than just myself in the very near future.  So before we settle down for too much food, alcohol, football and family here is what us a SCH are most thankful for.

We will start with are newest contributor Michael Stonecutter.

I think we are all pretty thankful for the Blackhawks right now. Taking a quick glance around the Chicago sports landscape kind of drives it home. No DRose, no Jay Cutler, no 2014 baseball hope, OUR PETS HEADS ARE FALLING OFF. The Blackhawks run an organization that you can (mostly) be proud of. The GM is making savvy moves to preserve this city's Golden Age of Hockey, they do wonderful charity work, and fan relations are top notch.

I am also very grateful for Extra Skater, and their fantastic array of advanced hockey statistics, live game tracking, and pretty darn good analysis. I remember going to timeonice.com on opening night to find that it hadn't updated to the 2013-14 season yet. After the requisite twitter mourning, and a moment of sheer insanity where I planned to track my own Corsi events, Extra Skater rose like a Phoenix from Arizona. If you have any interest in looking at the game beyond the eye test, I suggest bookmarking Extra Skater.

And I'm thankful for all the things we sometimes take for granted. As much as I love hockey, it's important to remember it's pretty far down the list in life. I'm thankful for my family, my friends, my health, a job and coworkers Ienjoy, and that I can now buy Surly beer in Chicagoland. Remember to have a beer for the deployed troops that can't be with their families and have a happy holiday everyone!

Our other newest contributor JenLC shares what she is grateful for.

A Thanksgiving post would not be complete without mention of the amazing things we take for granted in our lives every day.  I am thankful for my terrific husband and our two hilarious little boys.  I'm not sure any family has more laughs and fun than we do.  I'm also grateful for how wonderful our recent move to the east coast has gone.  We love our little town and have been astounded by the beauty of the mountains around us. I hope your Thanksgiving is a happy and healthy one too.

Golden Age of Chicago Blackhawks Hockey -

After years of not being able to watch Blackhawks games on TV, first period radio blackouts, teams that broke our hearts by giving us the hope of playoff success only to crush it and favorite players moving on to other teams; we have finally arrived at the Golden Age of Chicago Blackhawks Hockey.  Don't believe me? Talk to fans of other teams around the league. No, not the meatballs, but the people who really love the game of hockey regardless of their team affiliation.

The Blackhawks are the gold standard that every team and every fan base look to meet.  Talent, depth, leadership, tenacity...success. It's okay to argue which line combo works better or whether Crawford should start fifteen games in a row, but don't forget to sit back and admire the beauty of the big picture too.

Brandon Saad -

During his Calder Trophy nominated Rookie Season, Saad appeared in 46 games for the Blackhawks during the regular season.  He scored 10 goals, notched 17 assists and was a +8 in penalties taken/drawn while averaging 16.1 minutes on the ice per game.

His sophomore season is shaping up to be even better.  In 25 games played, Saad has scored 7 goals, assisted on 10 others and is again a +8 in penalties taken/drawn while seeing his average TOI rise to 17.0 minutes per game.  Saad's shooting percentage has gone from 10.2% last regular season to 13.7% this season.

Saad continues to impress with his skill and speed.  What sets him apart from other young players in the league is his strength and hockey sense.  Most players require a few years in the league to develop into men and thus acquire the strength that is so readily apparent in Saad.  The same can be said for hockey sense.  Not that Saad is immune from rookie or sophomore mistakes, but they are few and far between.  He plays the game as a man with much more experience.  Saad's continued growth will be something special to behold.  He is a unique player that I am thankful to be able to watch for years to come.

Next we have our GIF master nineteen88 giving us what she is most thankful for.

Thanksgiving is a time when we all take a moment to reflect on the things in our lives that we're grateful for.  Some might say that we Hawks fans have an embarrassment of riches in this regard, and honestly, they'd be right.  I could make a list of every Blackhawk, starting with Kane and Toews and working on down, and I'm grateful for every one of them and the amazing hockey they play.  I could list the Cup wins and the hat tricks, the high scores and the championships that all Hawks fans are grateful for. But here are a few things I, personally, am giving thanks for this season.

I'm super grateful that Brandon Bollig spent so much time working on his non-punching hockey skills this off-season.  The man is a treasure, and rapidly climbing my list of Favorite Blackhawks.  Not only does he have size and drive, but he's completely hilarious.  The send-up of Kaner's stick-handling video is going to make my top-10 Blackhawks moments list this year.  He's a superb guy in the locker room, universally adored, and now that he's getting some touch and hands, he's contributing positively on the ice, as well.  Go Brandon!  Keep scoring!

I'm so thankful for the community here at Second City Hockey.  Living as far away from Chicago as I do, it's sometimes hard to feel connected to the team and other fans in a concrete way.  The commenters and mods here are some of the best, funniest, most knowledgeable and wonderful I've found in my years online.  Watching games with you guys makes me feel like I'm in a room full of my close friends and fellow Blackhawks fans, cheering on the team together.  It's a true community, loyal and fun and funny and meaningful in all the best ways.  Thank you all for making this group something so special, and something that has enriched my life immeasurably over these last few years.

Now, we venture into non-hockey items, but frankly, this one could be construed as at least hockey-adjacent.  I am so very grateful for the amazing leaps in online streaming technology.  Not only hockey games, but football games, special events (like the Cup parade), the Olympics...the internet is like the best kind of live TV.   Worldwide sports at your fingertips.  I couldn't see half the games I do without the internet and the streaming sites and networks that make it possible.  I don't have cable, because it's stupidly expensive where I live, so without the internet, I'd be stuck with Sunday Night Football and not much else.  Bless you, internet.  I am so grateful for you.

Finally, I'm deeply grateful for snow boots.  Can you imagine what winters would be like in snowy areas if all we had were ankle-high shoes, like sneakers or loafers?  The wet socks, the sodden freezing cold jeans, the snow under the feet?  The frozen toes and shins?  The slipping and sliding and falling, the frostbite, the frigid feeling creeping up your legs as you slowly lose all sensation in your feet?  Oh, the horrors of that thought.  So yes, to whoever first thought "this shoe would be much better if it reached my knees, was insulated, and also waterproof," to you, mystery person in the far distant human past, I say thank you.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The return of BlueLineBeauty rounds out our hard hitting all female checking line!

In 2013, as with most years, there were some great times and there were some not so great times. I have to say the happiest and most fun moments I had in 2013 were hockey related. I am so thankful that not only did the Blackhawks win another Stanley Cup but that I was able to be a part of the victory parade and rally downtown. My job afforded me the privilege of escorting the players, their families, trophies, buses and trolleys around town AND back stage access at the rally. I was able to meet and take pictures with many players (including my boyfriend!!!), legends and owners. I got to take several other amazing pictures including a picture with the Cup and one of me wearing Organist Frank Pellico's 2010 ring. It was an amazing day and truly the best day I have ever had at work, EVER.

I am also so grateful that I was able to see the banner raising ceremony with my step-son, Little J. It was a fantastic evening and so much fun. I was skeptical about the whole bracelet light thing at first. I thought it was going to be a tad on the tacky side. But that ceremony was fantastic and the organization did a wonderful job including all the fans in the moment. I am truly blessed to have been able to share that night with Little J, our hockey bonding nights are my favorite because it allows me some alone time with him to really connect about all types of things, not just hockey. I love that on our trips to the UC in the car we get to talk about school, girls, college prospects and his many sport accomplishments. Without the Blackhawks we would probably not have those private times together and may not be as close as we are and for that I am thankful.

I am thankful for many other non-hockey related things as well. The most recent huge event in my family for which I am so grateful (other than winning the Cup) was my husband's promotion. After over 20 years of hard work and dedication to his job, my husband finally earned the position he desired for so long. It was a joyous time in our lives when it happened and I am so proud of him and thankful that his dream came true. The pay raise was a nice part of the whole situation too.

This year, as every year, I am also truly grateful for my friends and family. I know it is a typical, cheesy answer, but I really couldn't have gotten through some of the tough months my family faced this year without my closest friends. The support and encouragement they have all given both my husband and I, means the world to us and although we try in our own way, I am not sure we could never repay them for their compassion and genuine love. It is especially important to me this year to remember to personally thank all of my nearest and dearest because as we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we also remember a dear friend we lost exactly a year ago on this date. I am honored to have known Ray O'Gara and to have called him my friend. He was one of the kindest souls I have ever encountered and he always thought of others before himself. On this Thanksgiving, I am very thankful for all of the people who have touched my life. I intend to let the ones that are still here know just how much they mean to me and to the ones that have left us far too soon, I will tell them via this post; I love you and I thank you for your friendship. You are missed and will forever be in my heart.

Mike Shoro has taken some time off from writing Lindsey Buckingham fan fiction to give us his Thanksgiving thoughts.

It's easy to be thankful for the Chicago Blackhawks. The team is a source of joy on and off the ice. The players never fail to put on a show and the organization as a whole is among the class of the NHL. Watching this team play is an absolute blast. Every day I am grateful for the opportunity to watch such skilled athletes don the red sweater that greats like Pilote, Hull, Mikita and Esposito did. There will probably come a day when the numbers 19 and 88 will join them in the rafters. We are so lucky to have those two, as well as the supporting cast such as Sharp, Keith, Hossa, Hjalmarsson, etc. Combine the product on the ice with outstanding community outreach and exceptional fan appreciation and you could probably see why it is so easy to be thankful for the team. While I am certainly thankful for the Blackhawks organization, it's the Blackhawks community I am most grateful for.

The people I've connected with via twitter, this website, Blackhawks events, games, etc. are amazing. It's a privilege to call myself a member of a community with such wonderful human beings. You people make it fun to be a Blackhawks fan. From the ridiculous inside and running jokes to sharing the sheer exuberance of fandom, there is never a dull moment with you guys. You're all some pretty cool cats, in my book. And I am truly grateful for your friendship. Thank you.

On a much more personal level, I'm forever thankful for my family and my friends. I truly would not be the person I am today if it were not for them. I would go as far to say I would not be here today at all if it were not for them. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for multiple years now. At first, I was totally incapable of dealing with anything on my own. I burdened my friends and family with my problems simply because I couldn't handle them myself. But they guided me through my darkest days and continue to provide love and support now that I am capable of handling many of my issues on my own. I could not ask for better family or friends simply because better family and friends do not exist. I can never thank them enough for being as amazing as they are but I try to do so anyway with reciprocated love and care. I will cherish them for as long as I shall live. Have a great Thanksgiving everybody.

Randy Holt checks in from the desert with his thoughts.

I'm thankful that as Blackhawks fans, we're spoiled as hell. This is a fine hockey club, from top to bottom and that's the understatement of the century. The worst thing many of us complain about is Brandon Bollig getting a few minutes of ice time. Just think, we could be Calgary fans, where he'd be in the top six.

I'm also thankful there's still hockey in the desert. Say what you want about the Coyotes, they're a fun bunch to watch and I don't envy anyone that lives in a city/state without hockey. Glad I'm not one of them.

I'm incredibly thankful to be in the profession that I am. Since becoming a teacher last year, I have not woken up a single time lacking excitement for the day ahead. I'm so glad to be set in my profession at 23. Oh, and Doctor Who!

Thank you to all of you guys for helping me out and I am really excited about the things we will accomplish on Second City Hockey as a team.

I am thankful that back in the summer of 2006 the St Louis Blues and the Pittsburgh Penguins thought that Erik Johnson and Jordan Staal were better than Jonathan Toews.  Could you imagine how disgustiing Tazer would look in a Blues sweater or how unfair it would be if he was on the same depth chart as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin?  Watching Toews grow as a hockey player on the ice and a man off of it has been a pure joy.

I am also thankful for the NHL, as a whole, passing over on Brandon Saad 42 times in June of 2011.  The things this kid is doing at 21 years old is amazing.  His talent on the ice is only surpassed by humility off of it.  I really think we have the next Marian Hossa on our hands.

I am very thankful for the love and support I have received over the last couple of years from my friends and my family.  Being a sports writer and covering hockey is a dream of mine and I couldn't be close to making it come true without their encouragment and love, especially from my wonderful and understanding girlfriend whose support fuels the fire.

And finally, I want to thank all of you guys who come in and read my silly words everyday.  It means the world to me.  It still blows my mind that people actually want to read what I have to say about the Blackhawks.  Your comments, tweets and emails of encouragement only make me want to make this site even better.  Thank you and may you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

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