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Look on the bright side

by Paul Kukla
Everyone is back to work today after most of us enjoyed a long holiday weekend. Many are also attending their first day of school today.

I know, I know, it is hard to get back to the mentality of work and study. But look at it this way -- hockey is getting closer, much closer.

Let your mind slip away for a few moments from the matters at hand and think hockey. Think about the thrill that tingles along your spine when you team takes the ice for the first time. Think out-of-your-seat goals, unbelievable saves and body checks that make your teeth rattle.

We are beginning to see more hockey stories. The MSM (mainstream media) are coming back from vacation, the players are being spotted around town and most arenas have their ice down.

Hockey bloggers are getting back into working mode too. Instead of all the lists, from top 10 plays in team history to top five players who played from 1990-2000, we are getting season previews and predictions for the upcoming season.

I've let it be known that I am a Detroit Red Wings fan -- and having a longer than expected summer has made me want our game back, as quickly as possible. I long for the game-day chatter, coaches talking without really saying anything, GMs being tight-lipped about any potential trades. Players, even with their standard remarks, have been missed.

I am anticipating a season like never before. Tell me who is the runaway favorite in either conference? No team really stands out as a pure favorite in both conferences, I could pick up to five teams that have a legitimate shot at winning their conference -- and when it comes to the playoffs, you really cannot count out any team at this point in time.

For example, if you would have told me before last season started that the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes would be missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs, well I would have disagreed with you.

But that is hockey, teams can come out of nowhere to surprise many hockey experts while teams who we thought were a lock to make the second season do the complete opposite, leaving us shaking our heads.

As the training camp chatter picks up, we, as fans, have many questions. Many teams are still in need of that "stay at home defenseman" or the "sniper" who can score goals in bunches. Will those positions be filled after training camp breaks and we head to the regular season? I don't have the answer right now, but that is what makes our game so great.

Players we didn't see as being key surprise us and have a breakout year. Other players disappoint us too. One we thought was a lock for 30 goals only delivers 15. Surprises and disappointments make up our season, but it is too early to tell if we will have more of the good and less of the bad.

As we get back to our daily routine, that of going to work or attending classes, let you mind roam just a bit.

Hockey will soon return and our ordinary lives will soon be filled with passion and hope. Every team is 0-0-0 at this point in time and tied for first place. Yes, it will soon change, but we have no idea in what direction our favorite will team go.

We can only take the wait and see attitude and that is what makes the NHL so fun to follow.

Have a question, comment or a concern, feel free to email me at and for the latest in the hockey world, visit Kukla's Korner.

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