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Strap on your skates, Gordie. You’re goin’ in!

1 October 2008

That’s right, boys and girls…it’s hockey time! With baseball’s regular season over, October upon us, and 50,000 orange leaves resting on my front steps, the time for puckin’ is now.

One of the publications that’s keeping me from becoming a mortgage casualty (for now) has some nifty previews up of every team. I invite you to check out ESPN.com’s analysis, starting with a look at mon equipe de choix, the Montreal Canadiens. Dig this bit of optimism:

The Montreal Canadiens are hoping not to follow in the footsteps of the New York Yankees by dampening a historic season with a flop. So, while the Yanks closed out historic Yankee Stadium by missing the playoffs for the first time since 1993, the Habs hope their 100th anniversary will instead be mirrored by a season to remember. And perhaps a first Stanley Cup since 1993?

On paper, at least, they have a club that once again will contend for first place in the Eastern Conference and possibly long playoff run.

Sounds good to me. I can’t wait to get back to TD BankNorth Garden for some hot Habs-Bruins action in Boston. Had a great time doing that last season, both during the regular season and in the playoffs. Might be a time for my first trip to a hockey game back home in many years too.

As I discussed recently with Dave Dameshek on his excellent ESPN.com podcast, the NHL has had a great revival since emerging from its one-year lockout a few years ago. The game is much faster and more action-packed than it’s been in years, at times conjuring up memories of some of those great Edmonton Oilers teams from the 80s. There’s a tremendous amount of young talent in the league now, with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Ovechkin and many other young stars emerging. If you’ve never been much of a hockey fan before, now’s a great time to start. Go to a game at your local arena before you start flipping through your TV dial, though. No sport has a bigger enjoyment gap between being there live and staring at your screen than does the NHL.

Oh, and for you Simpsons nuts seduced by the “Bart The Lover” reference…I couldn’t find the appropriate YouTube clip, but you can flash back to Bart impersonating Gordie Howe comme ça.

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