Saturday, September 4, 2010

The air has cooled, college football is on the TV in the background and that can mean only one thing. Hockey is right around the corner. The good times are back again. In fact, the first puck drops in one month and a handful of increasingly shorter and crisper days.

All of the major storylines have been resolved and the major free agents have all found their homes for the next season. Gary Bettman made his power move and foreshadowed what could be a difficult renegotiation of the CBA in the not too distant future. With rosters mostly set, teams and fans can start thinking about how the season is going to play out.

Of course, it also brings the dilemma of how a transplanted Lightning fan is going to watch games in the big city. Do I forgo groceries for a few weeks and get the Center Ice package? Do I test the limits of the little netbook that could and stream games from some of the various websites out there that provide them on a possibly illegal basis? There is no way I can afford to go a bar 81 times in the net 6 months so that’s out of the question.

In all likelihood I will cough over more money to Comcast and sign up for the Center Ice package. After all, I will be alone in the cold darkness of my first Midwest winter and will need some comforting reminder of the town I used to call home. Nothing says hockey like seeing the Chief Bobby Taylor and Rick Pekhem sweating through the pre-game show on the Ice Palace plaza in the middle of November.

I’ve been warned that Fall can start any day after September 15th and I should invest in a heavy jacket and boots sooner rather than later. Lucky for me I’m now living in a neighborhood that is overrun with shops. I should be able to throw something together soon and for not too much. I now remember the beauty of second hand thrift shops and discount clothing chains.

The cold weather will make it feel more like hockey season, there’s just something not right about going to the beach before a game. Even better it should be a fun season in Hockey Bay, USA. After 3 years of wandering in the darkness Steve Yzerman has put together a balanced team - at least on paper. Many paper teams have gone up in flames in the past, and injuries could quickly undo all of the work the first time GM did this summer.

It’s too soon to anoint him a savior, but it would also be unfair to withhold praise. The shedding of Andrej Meszaros’ contract alone was enough to earn him another couple of years at the helm. To add a potential potent scorer in Simon Gagne and an up and coming goalie in Dan Ellis was damn near sorcery.

So while I can’t invest in season tickets and I probably shouldn’t invest in the TV package I will. The off-season moves have earned that, and it’ll give me a chance to watch Vincent Lecavalier’s phoenix-like rise to the upper echelon of hockey superstardom as well.

After all, who needs to eat well? Ramen noodles are very filling.

No comments: