One down and 81 games to go. Here are some of the things I'm looking forward to this NHL season.
More of what we got in the season opener
From Steve Bernier's punishing hits, to Milan Michalek's magic with the puck, to Joe Thornton
's brilliant passing, to the emergence of Matt Carle....it was all good. Was it a little too close for comfort at times? Perhaps, but it was pure entertainment for almost three hours. Great stuff! The Pacific Division Battle
In other years I might be groaning about having to play Anaheim, LA, Dallas and Phoenix a combined total of 32 times. Not this season. These games have more subplots than Larry King has ex-wives. Can you imagine the atmosphere in the Shark Tank when Coyotes Owen Nolan and Mike Ricci square off against their former teammates? Not to mention George Laraque, who took more than a few liberties against the Sharks in last year’s playoff series against Edmonton. Can you say Scott Parker? Dallas, always a Sharks rival, comes to town four times with former Hart Trophy winner Eric Lindros in their lineup. Scott Thornton and Alan McCauley return with Dean Lombardi's LA Kings, who by the way still have Sean Avery.
And then there's Anaheim, who despite changing their name, are "mightier" this year than they've ever been. Pronger!...Pronger!...Not since Theo Fleury has there been an opponent that Sharks fans have loved to hate any more than the Ducks new Super Blueliner. The division games will be awesome. I can't wait. The Kid
Saturday night, November 4th. The first Shark Tank visit by Sidney Crosby - already a hockey superstar in just his second NHL season. If not for Alex Ovechkin in Washington, Sid The Kid would have won the Calder as Rookie Of The Year last season. He's fast, super-skilled, gritty and has a mean streak. February 21, 2007 Sharks at Washington Capitals
Plug the date into your calendar. 4pm. FSN Bay Area. Live.
The Sharks visit Ovechkin and company. Last season, hockey's most amazing 21-year-old kind of snuck into the Shark Tank and snuck back out. Now his highlight clips on the internet (youtube,etc.) are legendary. He's an absolute joy to watch and it's a game you can't miss. Is four o'clock in the afternoon on a Wednesday too early for you? Boo hoo. Call in sick or buy a Slingbox. The Sharks when they are 5 on 3
I know it's only one game but can you imagine trying to stop the Sharks new two-man advantage power play unit? Thornton, Cheechoo, Bernier, Michalek and Marleau. Are you kidding me? And the way the Sharks play, they are going to draw plenty of penalties, just like last year. And if you get bored with that group, you still have Mark Bell, Matt Carle and Christian Ehrhoff on the bench. Yikes! The Oilers
Say what you want, but I still believe that the best rivalry's come from past playoff series. Full credit to the Edmonton Oilers for rallying from an 0-2 deficit last spring and taking the next four games from the Sharks. It wasn't a fluke either as the Oil went all the way to Game 7 of the Cup Finals. Pronger might be gone, but the bitter taste the Boys In Teal have from that playoff series is still in their mouths. The Sharks are smarter and tougher as a result of it. And by the way, keep your head up Raffi Torres.
I'm also looking forward to running into my old partner, Drew Remenda, when the Sharks appear on Hockey Night In Canada later in the year. At the same time, I can already tell that my new sidekick Marty McSorley and I are going to have a blast in the broadcast booth. We hope you have just as much fun watching and cheering for the guys down on the ice.
I'm Randy Hahn for the Seagate Technology In The Crease.