Happy Thanksgiving and hope you had plenty to eat with family and friends.
Tomorrow, normalcy returns to the ice as 11 games are scheduled to lead us into the weekend. One of those includes the much-hyped NBC NHL Thanksgiving Showdown, which gets underway at 6:00 pm est. It will pit two bitter rivals in the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in PA.
If you missed it, the annual Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade was held in New York City, Thursday afternoon. A participant of the event was NHL showcasing their own float to bring awareness to the game tomorrow and to spark an interest to those not familiar to the game of hockey, in general. Here’s a video from NHL.com that highlights the NHL’s presence in the parade:
The honorary members to represent the two teams for tomorrow were NHL legends John LeClair for the Flyers and Pat LaFontaine for the Rangers. LeClair has been through the wars as a Flyer is synonymous with Flyers hockey. However, LaFontaine does not remind me of Rangers hockey.
In his 15 years in the NHL, he played for three teams. Seven seasons with the New York Islanders, five seasons as a Buffalo Sabres, and one season with the New York Rangers. His best seasons were with the Islanders and Sabres, where he eclipsed 100 points in a single season (once as NYI and twice with BUF). He’s already been enshrined into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame in 2007; and, had his jersey retired by the Sabres organization in 2006. Lafontaine was enshrined in the Sabres Hall of Fame in 2004 and was voted third among the greatest players in Sabres history.
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So why was Lafontaine wearing Rangers garb? Why did the NHL pick him rather than the other Ranger legends to represent on the float? If you were looking for American-born Rangers, two come off the top of my head: Brian Leetch and Mike Richter. Both were prefect, and obvious, candidates for the honor. Perhaps, they were unavailable due to family commitments. Also, maybe it was the contributions that Lafontaine has done for the youth of USA hockey in the northeastern area that gave him the honor.
I think the NHL missed the mark on this latest attempt to promote hockey into mainstream. But then again, people in the mainstream don’t have much knowledge of the sport anyway, so it really didn’t matter.