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HEALTHY SKRATCH: AN INTRODUCTION TO OUR NHL NORTH DIVISION SEASON PREVIEW

First thing’s first: I’d like to welcome everybody to Healthy Skratch.

Founded by Tyler O’Connor and Kris Johnston-Galvez, we’re a three man collective of hockey bloggers who plan to bring you quality content, both written and podcast, that covers the game you love.

We’re excited to be affiliated with the HSS crew, and we’d like to offer them a quick shoutout for hosting us. We’re looking forward to this being a long and successful relationship on all sides and we love what they’re building.

Let’s dive in.

So here’s the thing. I love this sport. I love it with every ounce of my bleeding Canadian heart. I care about it more than I reasonably should.

But something unexpected happened this year:

I learned the hard limitations of that passion.

The pandemic brought about a 9 month period of not giving a f*ck about the game for me. I tried – don’t get me wrong. I watched the playoffs. Mostly. Alright fine, I bailed after the second round, f*ck you.

It’s been hard to care! This is the year I learned that I’m capable of not having the mental space for sports. It took a global pandemic and an increased focus on (severe) racial, social and economic inequality, but it happened. And I’m glad it did, for the most part.

Now what?

Now I head back in with a fresh perspective, for my own well being more than anything. Honestly, hockey itself doesn’t matter any more or less than it used to. The importance of filling stadiums certainly matters less (don’t tell the owners), and following strict health guidelines is as important as it’s ever been in sports history, but it’s always been a game. An engulfing passion that offers entertainment, distraction, and something to invest in emotionally that doesn’t hold any real bearing on quality of life, at least from a fan’s perspective.

I didn’t see it in that stark of a light before March 2020, but that’s how it’s always been. And right now? I need that more than ever. I think a lot of us do.

So with that said, here’s our North Division primer for you hockey starved souls out there. In it, I’ll be offering a breakdown of each team’s outlook at forward, defence and goalie with a focus on offseason moves and roster battles.

I’ll also be doing brief sections covering special teams, under the radar difference-makers and players I think could surprise at training camp.

What makes an under the radar difference maker? Well, it’s gotta be a guy who’s being overlooked, for starters.

That can be a veteran who’s production has tailed off that I like for a bounce back (Think Eric Staal in his first season with Minnesota), or a player who hasn’t fulfilled their potential yet that I think could breakout. As long as the buzz the player is getting doesn’t amount to the impact I believe they could have, they qualify.

I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoyed writing them, which was somewhat. Sort of a take it or leave it, could’ve done worse with my time kinda vibe. That’s the sweet spot.

In all seriousness, we’ve got a crazy year up ahead of us and I can’t wait to see the rivalries and wild storylines to come.

We’re gonna have some fun together.

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