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A hockey tease

Tuesday, 08.24.2010 / 10:06 AM / Columns

By Paul Kukla - NHL.com Correspondent

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A hockey tease
Recently the temperature here in Michigan dipped into the high 50s during the night. Of course, I immediately thought hockey is getting close.

The next day, it was back to reality. The weather almost hit 90 degrees with the humidity to match. I thought, oops ... the ice is going to melt.

I'm always thinking hockey on a regular basis. I see numbers while driving, things such as speed limit signs and gas station prices, and I attach player numbers to those numbers.

When someone gives me their phone number for the first time and they ask, "Aren't you going to write that down?" I answer, "No need ... I have a system." What I really do is attach hockey players to the phone number such as 555-9812 (Nick Lidstrom three times, Gordie Howe, Igor Larionov and Sid Abel).

"Recently the temperature here in Michigan dipped into the high 50s during the night. Of course, I immediately thought hockey is getting close."
-- Paul Kukla

My PIN numbers and computer passwords are also attached to hockey players. I see numbers, I think hockey players. Today, the price of gas is Martin Brodeur and Bobby Orr ($3.04).

I watch other sports on TV and compare certain numbers of the players to those of NHL players. For instance, Roy Halladay, a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, wears No. 34, so I try to compare that number to NHL players who have or currently wear No. 34. Most times, the NHL player wins, but in this instance, Halladay wins.

Not only are numbers on my mind, I also compare other athletes to hockey players. Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, may have lead the league with 34 touchdown passes last season, but can he play hockey or even skate?

Jose Bautista of the Toronto Jays, leads MLB in home runs with 40. But could he even score one goal in the NHL?

On the other hand, I think hockey players, who I certainly put on a pedestal, could at least compete in other sports -- or at least, I would like to think so.

What I am basically doing with all of these mental exercises or mind games is trying to kill time until the NHL season starts.

Boy, do I miss this game. This summer has gone by slowly but we are close, close enough to start thinking of line combinations and defensive pairings. Close enough where the sounds of the game will become the norm and not some distant dream we have in the middle of the summer.

Yes, the recent R & D camp was interesting. The World Hockey Summit going on now in Toronto gets us thinking hockey again and brings up a few topics to discuss while we wait for the players to take the ice.

But I want to see the equipment manager dump a bag of pucks on the ice while the players take their pre-game skate. I want to hear the first goal horn of the season and look forward to the first bone-rattling hit.

I want the playoff race to last until the last game of the season, I want to see someone score 60 goals, I want our game to be watched like never before.

Can the Chicago Blackhawks defend the Cup? Will San Jose finally reach the Stanley Cup Final? Will the Philadelphia Flyers win the Cup, or will they even make the playoffs? 

How about the Detroit Red Wings ... do they have another Cup run left? How about the Pittsburgh Penguins ... are they rested and hungry for the Cup again?

Can a team come out of nowhere, like the Phoenix Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens did last season? Soon, our questions will begin to get answered.

In the very near future, what I want I will get and I hope you do too. Start the hockey countdown, we are getting that close.

Questions, comments, just want to talk hockey? Feel free to email me at pk@kuklaskorner.com or visit Kukla's Korner for the latest hockey news.
Quote of the Day

It's such a privilege to be one of these 80 great players to do this milestone, and it doesn't get better than this doing it where I started. It means a lot to me. A big thanks goes to all the players tonight who helped me to achieve that and also all the players through my career.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa after scoring his 1,000th career point on Thursday night in Ottawa
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