What we're thankful for in hockey in 2021

This Thursday is Thanksgiving, or as it's known in the NHL, "American Thanksgiving." That means it's time for our own annual tradition here: what we're thankful for in hockey.

As because this is the first one of these we've done since the NHL returned to ESPN airwaves, we've decided to keep it in the family for this edition. Here are some of the voices, analysts, reporters, editors and producers behind our hockey coverage, taking a moment to give thanks for what they appreciate about the game and what the sport has given them.

Happy holidays from your ESPN hockey fam!

John Buccigross, host, "The Point"

"I am thankful for all the ancillary parts of this great game that enriched me and my children's lives. The Zamboni drivers, the scoreboard operators, the referees who travel for 7 a.m. Saturday morning games. The assistant coaches who can't skate but help to pick up pucks at the end of practice and high-five an 8-year-old when he or she first gets that backward skating crossover. The stats guy who sits next to me when I'm calling an NHL game on ESPN. And the moms who scream louder than everyone else in a mostly empty rink. Bar down, hands up, mama cries. I love you all."

Kevin Weekes, NHL insider

"There are so many things I'm thankful for. I think the biggest thing now that I'm thankful for is that arenas are back to the potential of full capacities and fans are back in venues around the league. It's amazing to have fans back. They are a big part of the soundtrack in terms of the experience game-to-game, shift-to-shift. I'm grateful to see them back in the building. As a broadcaster and a former player, it makes a huge difference to have the fans in the building."