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THN.com Blog: Giving thanks for early-season gifts

Chris Pronger has grown his playoff beard early this year. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Chris Pronger has grown his playoff beard early this year. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

With Canadian Thanksgiving still fresh in my mind – thanks to copious amounts of leftovers still filling my gullet on a daily basis – it feels like a good time to follow in Ken Campbell’s footsteps and list a few of the things I’m thankful for early on in this NHL season.

• The unmatched history of the Montreal Canadiens and that not a drop of its brilliance is lost on the team or its fans, no matter what generation.

• The fantastic start of the New York Rangers. Partly because the league is a better place when the Blueshirts are in the hunt, but mostly for proving me right and Adam Proteau wrong.

• The hype machine that was Fabian Brunnstrom actually living up to expectations…if only for one game.

• The new third jerseys of the Oilers, Sabres, Blues, Canucks, and Bruins (but not the Hurricanes or Thrashers). And for the Icethetics Blog, for keeping on top of the new sweaters and all things artsy with a hockey twist.

• The “playoff” beard Chris Pronger is sporting in mid-October.

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• The depth of knowledge and perfectly timed inflections of Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Jim Hughson. It will take fans a while to get used to him as CBC’s No. 1 guy, but trust me, we’re witnessing the early days of what will be a legendary career.

• The fact, in light of the Alexei Cherepanov tragedy Monday, Jiri Fischer is still with us.

• The NHL’s ongoing infusion of youthful exuberance. When Nikita Filatov, who was recalled by the Blue Jackets Wednesday, makes his debut and Carolina’s Zach Boychuk returns from his wrist injury, it’ll bring the total of 2008 first-rounders who’ve played this season to 11.

• The term “new NHL” has almost completely disappeared from the hockey vernacular.

• The ability to watch cancer survivors Saku Koivu and Phil Kessel face off, as they did Wednesday night when Boston visited Montreal.

• The anticipation that a goal will be scored that equals or surpasses Rick Nash’s extraordinary effort from last campaign…


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