I think that those people who know me would agree that I'm a "glass half full" kind of guy. But while I like just about every change the "new NHL" has brought, I'd prefer a change in the schedule next year. Everybody knew that Sydney Crosby was going to be a dynamic player for the Pittsburgh Penguins this season. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that when you are already a sensational offensive star in junior hockey and you get moved onto a line with Super Mario that there's going to be a whole lot of scoring going on in that town. The problem is that many hockey fans west of the Monongahela River won't get to see him in the flesh this season. What's up with that? With the exception of the few Penguins games you can catch on the tube, you'll have to take the word of your old army buddy in Steeltown that The Kid is phenomenal. I'd rather the NHL make changes so that next season and from now on every team plays every other team at least once each year. Everything else I love, but on this, we can do better.
On the other hand (glass half full part) the Sharks lucked out when it comes to their next home-stand. For fear of sounding like a carnival barker in the big tent, the four straight games against the Southeast Division should be spec-tac-u-lar! First comes Atlanta with Ilya Kovalchuk. Is this guy the franchise in A-town? Oh definitely! New Jersey's Martin Brodeur recently challenged Kovalchuk suggesting that he had stopped producing. That lit a fire under the Thrasher and ever since his goal and assists totals are piled high. On December 10 the surging Carolina Hurricanes visit the Tank. The Cane's used to be known for their smothering style and a lineup full of glue guy's but not enough entertainers. That's all changed now thanks to sophomore sensation Eric Staal. While he was rock hard in his rookie year, Staal was underrated. Not anymore. And just wait until his three brothers crash the NHL party in the next few years. He'll be wishing his family would just leave him alone. Plus it's always great to see former Shark Ray Whitney again. There's no more "just maintaining" in Carolina. These guys are for real. Then on December 16, the much awaited visit by the Washington Capitals. Rookie sensation Alexander Ovechkin can do it all. I wouldn't be surprised if he even flew the darn plane to San Jose. If you haven't seen the young Russian's highlight reel yet, you have no idea. He has hands like Mario Lemieux and is quickly becoming known as "the mailman" in D.C. You know the line, he always delivers. Somewhere in his youth some coach told the kid to "have fun with it" and he's never looked back. What a star!
So enjoy the parade of stars into HP Pavilion in December. I hope the NHL makes the schedule changes to make sure we see these players on a regular basis, yet I fear they might not. And remember, if you can't make it to the game don't take that remote out of your hand!
I'm Randy Hahn for Seagate Technology’s In The Crease