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The game is back on the ice

by Paul Kukla /
Informal skates, rookie camps, prospect evaluations -- all words we as hockey fans love to hear. It means the season is right around the corner, and that means we soon will be able to read about what matters most -- the game itself, the game on the ice.

I have had enough of bidding, buying and court hearings. Now we can talk about coaching techniques, line combinations and the outlook for the upcoming season.

All summer long we have heard about trades and signings that were about to happen. I advised you that most player movement would not happen until early September, so now you can start to anticipate them. Many moves are coming, with some signings you probably did not expect. I officially proclaim you now can get excited about the possibility of your team signing or trading for a player that will improve its performance.

Will your team be improved? Are you happy with the direction the team is headed? Do you understand only one team can win the Stanley Cup? All questions that only can be answered by playing the games, the games we have anticipated all summer.

Many people have called me "old school" and I am proud to be wearing that badge. I have been told I need to get into the other aspects of the game -- things like jersey wars, goalie mask comparisons and taking pot shots at teams that are struggling, on and off the ice.

That is not my style nor will I cave into such demands. I much rather would allow the players and coaches to do the talking -- and when I say talking, I mean how they perform during a game. When all is said and done, that is the bottom line -- wins and losses tell all.

Now is the time we can push all the off-ice news into the background. The game on the ice deserves our full attention and that is where it should be. Focus on the game and all other topics will become secondary. Follow the players on the ice, follow the coaches during the game and follow your opposition, learn their tendencies and figure out how to take advantage of them. 

This is the time to begin breaking down your team's roster. Does it have enough talent and heart to get your team into the playoffs? Will a move, maybe even a small one, improve your chances to make the second season?

We can start paying attention to the game again, the game that is played on the ice. I am filled with anticipation and look forward to our game and I hope your attention is where it needs to be to. The first puck is about to be dropped. Are you ready?

I am going to leave you with a quote from Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau via the Washington Post -- "It's what we do. Vacation is over. Throwing out pitches is done, so let's get back to work."

So true, Bruce, vacation is over and it is what we do. Now let's go out and do it to the best of our ability. Thirty teams want to hold the Stanley Cup but only one can. Who will it be?

As always, feel free to e-mail me at or follow me on Twitter@kuklaskorner.

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