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Rookies are nice, but I'll take the veterans

by Paul Kukla
I usually submit my blog Tuesday mornings, but yesterday was not the day to do so.

My routine on Tuesday is get out of bed around 5:30 a.m., make some coffee, then head to the garage to fetch the garbage and put it on the curb. Yesterday I did make the coffee and then headed to the garage, but that is when my day changed.

With the garage door remote in my hand, I pressed the button but the swinging door to the garage would not open. I manually gave the door a little tug and the door began to open. I ducked under the opening door only to hear it stop abruptly. I looked up and then my worst fear became reality (the door is 60 years old) -- the door began to come off its track and was headed towards my head.  I raised my hands to stop the door from meeting my noggin and was able to get the door to settle down, but it was in need of repair.

Thinking this was a five-minute job, I grabbed the ladder and tried to get the door on the track, but was unable to do so. Three hours later, all the while trying to think of a hockey topic for the blog, I realized I was done for the day.

Long story short, repair man was called, repair man tried to fix the door -- and of course, I ended up ordering a new door.  

After the garage door fiasco, I still had a blog to write but could not generate a topic I felt was worthy of a blog submission.

Truthfully, there are numerous topics I could discuss. Rookies in training, NHL players at informal skates, possible roster adjustments that could be made -- I could go on and on.

I woke up this morning still trying to decide on a topic and then it hit me like a garage door falling towards my head: I realized I am in hurry-up-and-wait mode. I want NHL training camps to start. I want to see NHL players play in exhibition games. I want to see the talent and skill of the NHL player.

My attitude toward all the young players we are reading about right now is "Give them time." Some of the players who are making hockey headlines today may not be heard from for another two to four years -- and the possibility certainly exists we may never, unfortunately, hear from them again.

Therefore, I don't get too excited with all the rookie hype and instead turn my attention to what I know is a sure thing -- the established NHL player.

Many will be fighting to keep their jobs; others will be trying to impress the coaches and scouts, while the elite players will be trying to get their timing down and hope to get through the exhibition season in good health.

Some NHL rosters will be tweaked and adjusted, but all will have one thing in common -- the NHL player. The type of player who knows his first priority is to perform and produce at a high level on a nightly basis, all the while trying to maintain some sort of routine in his daily life outside of hockey.

These men are the best in the world. If you have any doubts about the NHL player, just sit back and watch what they bring us, night after night, season after season.

Sure, they get paid well to do what they do, but they deserve the financial compensation.  

I'm sure most of you have slacked a bit from time to time at work and have been able to pull it off, no questions asked. Do you think an NHL player could do the same? Do you think the NHL player could call in sick just because he really did not feel like getting out of bed that day?

We all have experienced what we would consider a crisis at home. The basement is flooding, the furnace just went out or the roof is leaking. Maybe the garage door is off its track and we can spend five hours to fix or replace it. Time is on our side.

On the other hand, time is not on the NHL player's side. Players' careers are relatively short, and they can't afford many days off or mistakes or else they would have the time to do what we do.

Appreciate what these players do; they are the standard, what the rookies are trying to achieve.

When you go to your next NHL game, stand up and cheer -- these NHL players deserve it.

Have a comment, concern or just want to talk the game? E-mail me at or visit Kukla's Korner for the latest happenings in the hockey world.

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