This Thursday is American Thanksgiving. While our neighbors to the North gave thanks last month, it’s my turn to eat a 12-course dinner in mid-afternoon and as glass after glass of wine flows. I might emerge from the day a solid ten pounds heavier, but my body is ready.
After my press availability to my relatives fielding the same “when are you getting married?” and “when are you giving me grandkids?” questions, I’ll retire to my living room to watch some football before slipping into a food coma. While the National Football League is required viewing on Thanksgiving Day, this year I have another option. After the pumpkin pie is eaten and my aunt takes pounds of leftover turkey from my house, the New Jersey Devils will take the ice for a Thursday night matchup.
The NHL and Thanksgiving
I was surprised to see a hockey game on the schedule for Thursday night. Normally, the NHL gives players the day off. Not to mention the holiday is quite literally owned by the NFL. And if you aren’t watching football, you’re most likely on the way to your local mall to wrestle a group full of people to save $50 on a television.
NHL games on American Thanksgiving are rare, they are not entirely unheard of. The NHL had Thanksgiving Day matchups in 2009 and then again in 2016. Like this year’s contest of Devils vs the Montreal Canadiens, both those matchups were American teams visiting Canadian teams.
American Thanksgiving has long been a date of significance in the NHL season. There’s the unofficial “Thanksgiving Rule” that states if your team is in a playoff position on that date, they have a pretty good chance of playing playoff hockey at the conclusion of the season. Sorry to break it to you all, but it ain’t looking great for the Devils if that rule holds true.
Does Turkey Day Hockey Make Sense?
While I usually don’t question the infinite wisdom of the NHL schedule, this game seems puzzling. My first thought in the offseason: maybe the Devils would be in the midst of a road trip, but nope. Their Thanksgiving matchup is in between two home games that take place at Prudential Center.
In recent years, the NHL has made an event of their Thanksgiving matchups, but those matchups usually take place on the day after Thanksgiving on Black Friday, called the “Thanksgiving Showdown“. The NHL has promoted the event with a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. This year’s matchup is between the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins, a day before the Rags come to Prudential Center to take on the Devils.
As an American, it’s weird seeing hockey on Thanksgiving, but from a Canadian perspective, it makes sense. The game is taking place in Montreal, where a capacity crowd will be in attendance to watch the Habs no doubt. Attendance would be nowhere near that level if the game was held stateside.
The bright side for us is that we get some Devils hockey to watch this Thursday. Hate to break it to my uncle, but instead of watching the New Orleans Saints game, my TV will be turned on to MSG network. If the Devils start losing, then maybe I’ll switch over to the Saints game.