With the end of the inglorious lockout behind us (the thing lasted nearly as long as the entire NFL season) it is time to celebrate the return of the NHL. In a few short weeks the frenetic pace, sloppy play, injury plagued and shortened season may make us forget why we fought so hard for the game we love.
1. The talent – We live in one of the most talent rich eras in NHL history. Each team has a solid leader or player to build around (unless you are Columbus) and the top level players include some who will go down as all-time greats. We are entering the primes of the incomparable Sidney Crosby, the incredible Jonathan Toews, the enigmatic Alex Ovechkin, the soaring Steven Stamkos, the rascal Claude Giroux etc. Bottom line: enjoy these players because they are (and will continue to ) do amazing things. While you are at it, also check out the incredible goaltenders (like Cory Schneider!) currently playing – and the swan song of the greatest ever: Martin Brodeur.
2. Hungry for the Cup – A lot of teams desperately need to win the Stanley Cup, and they desperately need to win the Stanley Cup right now. Aging core veterans are the way many teams are built and the title window is rapidly closing (for teams like Vancouver). In the next few years several vets will simply be too old and lose their final chance to drink from Hockey’s holy grail (Vancouver) or they will get priced out by a lowered salary cap (Vancouver). In any event Vancouver needs to win the Cup this year. It worked for LeBron in Miami after the NBA Lockout so I will simply assume Vancouver will win this year.
3. Spectacular Flops – At some point this season a team who is supposed to contend for a title will fall apart. I can only hope it is one of the following: Chicago Blackhawks, LA Kings, Boston Bruins or any team from Alberta. Who am I kidding? It is going to be the Toronto Maple Leafs and this makes me very happy.
4. Teemu Selanne’s last stand – Who can pass up the chance to see one of the most remarkable players in hockey history skate one final lap? The amazingly consistent Selanne (his point totals / goals have been virtually the same for twelve years) is one of the fifteen best players in the history of the game. Come out to cheer on one of the classiest guys ever.
5. To Recap – Again, how can you miss out on the chance to see Vancouver win the Cup, Sidney Crosby dominate, Selanne take one last shot and to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs fall apart spectacularly? Ladies and gents, the best game in Canada is back!