Reflecting on 2016 and Looking Forward to 2017

The start of a new year brings different things for different people.

Some like to look back at the year that’s past while others want to move on to the adventure ahead. You might not take your New Year’s resolutions seriously or you could focus on making a real change in your life.

THE BEST OF 2016

This was a hot topic on our trip to Minnesota and Winnipeg. We spent some time as a crew throwing around and debating what we all believed were the big Islanders moments and hockey moments from the last year. Ultimately, we all agreed for the Islanders it was John Tavares’ double-overtime goal in Game 6 against the Panthers that gave the Isles their first playoff series win in more than two decades. Months later fans who were there in Brooklyn and those who watched on TV still tell me about their personal experience watching that goal.

New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) leaps in the air with New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) after Tavares scored the winning goal in the second overtime period of Game 6 of an NHL hockey first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Florida Panthers in New York, Sunday, April 24, 2016. The Islanders defeated the 2-1. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

As for the biggest event or moment around the league, it was not as clear cut. Yes, winning the Stanley Cup is the ultimate prize in this sport, but that does happen every year. So in my mind, sorry Pittsburgh you’re not the story. My vote was two fold, the league saying hello to something new, and goodbye to someone greatly loved.

Vegas Baby

This past summer Vegas was awarded an NHL franchise that will join the league starting in 2017-18. This is a move that will affect the city of Las Vegas as well as every single team in the league. After this current season, there will be an expansion draft and the Vegas Golden Knights will select one player from every NHL team to join their new franchise. This is the first expansion franchise since the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild were added in 2000. It’s also the first major professional sports team to call Las Vegas home. I believe that makes Vegas a double whammy. One of the biggest stories of 2016 and one that will follow into 2017. I’m expecting some huge moments including the expansion draft, opening night and much more.

Goodbye Mr. Hockey

I’ve lived in a lot of places throughout my life but I call Michigan home. My parents and brother still live there in the suburbs of Detroit. I fell in love with hockey in Hockeytown where I had the pleasure of meeting Hall of Fame great Gordie Howe. I’m not sure I could fully express what that man means to the fans in Michigan and around the hockey world. His passing in June was heartbreaking for so many. His accolades are too long to list but Howe set the bar incredibly high in this sport. He was an amazing player and from what I’ve heard a wonderful family man who will be greatly missed.

Reflecting on 2016 would feel incomplete if I didn’t give thanks for all the blessings in my life and my adventures outside of work and hockey. This past year I had the wonderful opportunity to continue my passion for travel and enjoy some time with those I love most. Sailing in Spain was magical. The food in Basque Country was amazing. Italy is picture perfect and even better the second time around. I’m grateful for my travel companions and the ability to spread my wings in other beautiful countries.

Hogans Highlights Italy

Looking to 2017 I’ve made a New Year’s resolution. I’m going to focus on being more in the moment. I want to do a better job at paying attention and giving thanks for things happening here and now.

It’s very easy for me to spend too much time looking ahead. That includes with this job, the Islanders and my personal life. I’m guilty of staring at the standings and doing the math to figure out what it will take for the Isles to make the playoffs. There are days I’ll check multiple times and start obsessing about it. I know there are fans out there who understand. But ultimately, we’re not the ones out on the ice playing.

While I might be a little superstitious and will do my part on that end, I know it’s the team that decides it’s own density. I do believe the Isles have moved in the right direction and the last five games were promising. But if the Islanders are going to take things one game at a time, I should too. It’s a long season and a lot can happen with 46 games to go.

Outside of sports, the world is whizzing by. Friends get married and have babies, grandparents get older, your living arrangements change, and in a blink a year is gone. The phrase goes wake up and smell the roses…. well in 2017 I want to smell them all!

The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.