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The season is over, but hockey is still on our minds

Tuesday, 06.16.2009 / 9:00 AM / Columns

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

Detroit Red Wings Stanley Cup Champs GearIf you are a Detroit Red Wings fan, you have realized one thing over the past few days -- the sun does rise and set, even though the Wings lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a great, seven-game Stanley Cup Final.
 
Yes, Pittsburgh was the better team and any team that wins 4 of their last 5 games deserves the Stanley Cup.  The Penguins showed determination and were driven not to lose, the Wings appeared a half-step slower and looked like a tired team at times.
 
Congratulations goes out to all those associated with the Pittsburgh Penguins and that includes all of their fans.  I am sure it will be a summer to remember and now it is the Penguins with the bull’s-eye on the back of their sweaters next season.  So be prepared Penguins followers, every game you team participates in will be a hard-fought battle.
 
Now we move on and start thinking of roster moves many of the teams will be making in the next few weeks.  We shall be soon hearing what the exact salary cap figure will be for next season, then we will start reading all the chatter about numerous trade scenarios.
 
The NHL Entry Draft in Montreal (June 26-27) should be a wild one, all the trade talk, teams trying to move up in the draft and possible UFA signing talk will be in play too, even though the UFA signing period doesn’t start until July 1.
 
What will your team look like after all the dust settles? Do you feel there are major changes coming? Will your team basically be the same as the past season? Or maybe you have no idea what moves will be made.
 
Whatever your question, in about a month or so, you will get a much clearer picture of how your team will look for the 2009-10 season.  Most big –name UFAs will be signed in early July and then we get to have some fun, putting together line combinations, maybe suggesting a tweak trade, one that will help your team for the upcoming year.
 
Even though the games have stopped for the season, hockey is still on our minds.  These days, it seems only the last week of July and the month of August is really considered the down-time for the NHL.  GMs go on vacation, media members can be found on the golf course or on the lake more than they can be spotted hanging around a rink or locker room.  Players will be in full training mode during this down-time, preparing for a long season and also thinking about a chance of representing their country in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
 
As fans, all we can do is observe, give our opinions and hope for the best for the team we cheer for.  We go into next season knowing all teams are 0-0-0 and hope is eternal.
 
May your summer be an enjoyable one filled with hockey talk.  I will be around to help you get through the next few months and if you ever want to talk hockey, feel free to email me at pk@kuklaskorner.com or leave a comment below.


Quote of the Day

I just wanted to do something to take my mind off the shot and let me relax a little bit. It seemed like the fans liked it. I'm glad I was able to score.

— Oilers forward Taylor Hall on lifting his arms to fire up the crowd before his penalty shot
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