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Christmas in October

October 3, 2006

                                      Christmas Tree

 I’ve dabbled in hockey writing a few times over the last couple of years, but I’ve never suffered through an off-season (until now, I never stuck with it long enough).  I’ll admit that it was tough.  There were pockets of frenzied action when the draft was on, or the start of free agency, and a few other big trades.  But by and large, it was difficult to come up with something fresh, new, and exciting on a regular basis (or ever, some might argue!).  With no games on television and only my memory to sustain me, it was difficult some days to remember why I started writing here at all (probably so I could overuse hyperbole).

Last night, Fox Sports Ohio began their four-day replay of the top four games of 2005-06 as selected by folks at the Blue Jackets website.  Seeing hockey again, I was reminded why it is the greatest game of all to me.  Though I knew the end result of the game before it even started, I was still riveted to the couch to watch the Jackets and Predators go at it.  Muddled breakout passes, blind stick saves, lucky backhand shovels, and last second breakdowns.  It was all there.  Taking a penalty less than a minute into overtime, it was there.  I can remember the feeling at the time.  Adam Foote eschewing the pass to Marchant in favor of a wrister under Vokoun’s left arm to score the shorthanded winner, it was there, too.

Some of the folks I read (other blogs in the sidebar) are statistical analysis pieces.  Some are more interested in the business of hockey.  And still others (often the most fun to read), are fans of the game and display a “healthy passion” for their team.  What everyone from all walks of hockey fandom knows is that this is collectively the best time of year. 

If your team goes on a Cup run, you could argue that May and June are better than now (and I’d have to agree).  But on the whole, today (or Wednesday/Thursday for some teams) is like Christmas Eve for hockey fans.  There are between 1290 and 1335 games of hockey ahead of us on the schedule (or at least 82 if you’re short-sighted).  Every team is tied for first place.  For some teams, their fans’ hopes will never be higher this season than they are tonight. 

Opening night is like Christmas, where the fans get to open up their presents and see what Santa brought them.  Did we get the fancy new iPod, or a beat up old 8-track off eBay?  Somebody out there loves 8-tracks, right?  I know I have for the last five years, but I’m hoping it’s time for an upgrade. 

At least to vinyl.

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