Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with tradition, from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, to stuffing your face with food, to passing out on the couch while watching the Detroit Lions lose to whatever team the NFL puts in front of them.
One such Thanksgiving tradition that Penguins fans have become accustomed to over the years actually takes place on the night before the big feast. It’s the Penguins (almost) annual Thanksgiving Eve game.
Since Sidney Crosby entered the league in 2005, the Penguins have played on Thanksgiving Eve 13 times, with the exceptions coming in 2005 during Crosby’s first season and then again in 2012 when the NHL was in a lockout. Now, 2020 will be added to the list as the league remains on hiatus trying to figure out when the new season will commence.
While playing on the night before Thanksgiving has become an unofficial tradition for the Penguins franchise, so has winning. In the 13 Thanksgiving Eve contests the Penguins have played during the Crosby era, they have posted a stellar 9-2-2 record and only suffered one loss since 2013.
Not only have those Thanksgiving Eve contests given Penguins fans much to be excited about, they have also produced some incredibly thrilling hockey. Case in point, last year’s matchup with the Vancouver Canucks that featured 14 total goals and a wild third period comeback by the Penguins.
That game is of course not the only Thanksgiving Eve matchup for the Penguins that has provided fireworks. Five have gone to overtime or a shootout and six have seen the Penguins light the lamp four or more times.
In fact, their only real snoozer came in a 5-1 loss to the Canucks in 2017. Other than that one occasion, the Penguins have provided their fans with much entertainment as they prepared for the holiday festivities that awaited them in less than 24 hours.
Looking back and remembering the good times from years past is always fun, but now we much focus on the reality of the present. Like so many other things in 2020, COVID-19 has robbed us of this unique Thanksgiving tradition we have come to adore as Penguins fans.
With the NHL still working through its unusual offseason and trying to sort out plans for a 2020-21 season, there will be no Thanksgiving Eve game this year. It wasn’t an entirely unexpected outcome considering the NHL just wrapped up its 2019-20 season less than two months ago, but it doesn’t make it suck any less.
Once you complete any last minute Thanksgiving preparations later this evening and face the reality that there will be no Penguins hockey to wrap up your night with, fret not. Thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to compile a short YouTube playlist of past Penguins Thanksgiving Eve games dating back to 2013. Feel free to click through and remember the good times.
Although it remains to be seen when exactly hockey will return, let’s hope we won’t be writing another piece like this a year from now. Hopefully soon we will have good news to report on that front. Until then, we wait with the rest of you.
Hockey or no hockey, I hope everyone has a happy and healthy Thanksgiving however you are celebrating this year. We are truly thankful that all of you have stuck with us through this tumultuous year and we look forward to brighter days ahead.
I will leave you with this one last thought: Mac and cheese is a perfectly acceptable side dish for Thanksgiving.