It’s Thanksgiving time again for everyone around the United States.  The air has a crispness to it in Southern Indiana, the leaves are filling up gutters and everyone is plotting their excuse to avoid Aunt Edna’s jello that has the weird floating stuff in it.  Before everyone embarks into the insanity that is the Christmas season of shopping, stress and debt, let’s take a moment to celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving: being thankful.

There’s much for this Sin Bin writer to be thankful for.  There’s the most obvious reasons to be thankful: food, shelter and running water.  There are the personal reasons to be thankful such as healthy kids, loved ones to share the holidays with and the ability to pay my bills.  Any of those are great reasons to step back from the grind of day to day living and pause to thank whatever you do or don’t believe in for another sunrise.  This is the Sin Bin, so I’m going to address another reason I’m thankful: Hockey in Evansville.

It was about this time last year when the wheels started to fall off the bus on hockey in Evansville.  The news broke that Evansville’s old hockey team was at an impasse with the city on contract negotiations and that story carried through the winter.  The news turned worse over the winter when the story broke that Evansville’s current team was leaving and there would be no more professional hockey.

Due to the tireless work of Michael Hall and the entire Evansville Thunderbolts organization that ended up not being the case.  Those of us that have a passion for the sport are still able to wear our new colors and yell, scream or otherwise bemoan transactions because we have been afforded the opportunity to do so.

I know that being thankful for hockey on a hockey website sounds cliche.  It may appear to be a piece written to jump on the Thanksgiving Holiday and add to the gluttony of Facebook posts most of us see about the mundane things people are “so grateful” for.  That’s not the case for me.

In the fall of 2009 I had been married for a little over a year and my life path was not going well.  I was making choices that were dumb and it was hurting people close to me.  I was in the midst of self destruction and I was dragging with those closest to me.  At that time, my wife’s younger sister didn’t like me much and I can’t say that I blame her.  She was only nine years old and she didn’t want anything to do with me.

Anyone at a crossroads in life gets to make a decision and I decided it was time to do something different and better with my life.  I slowly started to rebuild relationships and by the time my birthday rolled around in March, that nine year old girl took me to my first IceMen game as a present.  We had an incredible time that night in a losing effort.  Being a lifelong hockey fan I got to share with her not only the rules but my enjoyment for the game.

Year after year we have continued to go to hockey games together and I’m proud of the man and example I get to be for that young lady today.  It warms my heart every year and makes me cry when she gives me, just her sister’s husband, a Father’s Day card.  collage

I’ve had the privilege of taking my own daughter to hockey games and one day in the not too distant future I’ll bring my son along also.  It’s something I get to share with them and that time means the world to me.

When it appeared hockey would no longer be in Evansville I remember asking the fan group on Facebook what hockey means to them.  I heard story after story about how hockey saves people from winter time depression, we have married couples that met at hockey games and there are countless other stories about what going to the game means for people. That is on top of the incredible friendships that have been made along the way.

Yes, this Thanksgiving when I bow my head and say thank you for all my blessings, hockey will be included on that list.  I may even take a bite of Aunt Edna’s disgusting mess of a jello mold.  Whatever you are thankful for, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving from my corner of the Sin Bin to yours.

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