Personally, this summer has been going by too quickly. I don’t care if the calendar says August. I haven’t seen the ocean yet so it’s not really summer to me. From a hockey standpoint, this summer has been like watching paint dry. The biggest news to hit the wire this week was sadly the report of the death of former Canuck, Rick Rypien. That is not the kind of news the hockey world is anxious to hear. Let’s hope we can ride out the rest of the summer without any more stories of loss in the NHL family. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends from Cardiac Cane.
While waiting patiently for the new season to begin (ok, NOT so patiently) I have been thinking about what I am looking forward to this coming season and questions waiting to be answered. I can speculate about these things until the cows come home but until the first puck drops I don’t think I will have my answers. Here are five things I have been mulling around while crossing off days on the countdown to October.
1. What kind of lines are we going to roll with all the new players? The line switch ups at the end of the season were making my head spin. If I didn’t read about them online earlier in the day or have a game guide in front of me I was lost. I love the Jokinen/Ruutu/Skinner combination but I don’t know if/when we will see that again. Who is going to play on the first line with Eric Staal? That one is a huge question mark for me. And where does Ponikorovsky fall in the mix? More importantly, can we start calling him Poni? It’s much easier.
2. Who will emerge as leaders this season? Erik Cole had taken on a role as a de facto alternate captain last season, at least in the eyes of the fans and to his young protégé Jeff Skinner. Will Brandon Sutter step up to show us why he wears the A on his sweater? I am hoping the two-way forward will have more opportunities to shine on offense this season even though he has been invaluable on the penalty kill. The kid wants to score! I think Ruutu has the potential to shine in a leadership role even if it is unofficial. His play at the end of the season and his serving as alternate captain on Team Suomi as they won the World Championships showed he has what it takes to be a leader.
3. How many games will Cam Ward actually play this season? What kind of rotation will the coaches have with Boucher? I am really excited to have the mighty Boosh as backup and hope he will be someone we can count on. (i.e. I won’t have a stroke every time he skates out between the posts or have to cover my eyes while watching the games.) Last year if Cam Ward got hold of a bad Chinese buffet we could have been down for the rest of the season. God forbid he breaks a bone or hurts his back (again). Let’s hope Boosh is pliable and solid in net.
4. What will the young Zac Dalpe show us? I am so excited about this kid. I love his commitment and work ethic. I hope his year can live up to the heart he puts into his training and play. His hometown paper is peppered with articles about him. That’s where we learned about him building a gravel pit for him and his younger brother to train in over the summer. I can’t help but root for the kid knowing how much he really wants a spot on the Canes roster.
5. Which Tim Gleason is going to show up this season? The kinder, gentler Timmy that said in his exit interview that he was discouraged from engaging in fisticuffs and told to stay out of the box? Or the hard hitting Timmy with an Irish temper? He won the Steve Chaisson Award last season which goes to the player who “best exemplifies determination and dedication while proving to be an inspiration to his teammates through his performance and approach to the game.” The fans didn’t necessarily see this, but we don’t know what went on in the room.
If you really want to torture yourself the rest of summer make sure and visit the How Many Days Until Hockey countdown page! Have a take on these topics? What are your questions heading into the season? Leave us a comment!
Topics: Alexei Ponikorovsky, Brandon Sutter, Brian Boucher, Cam Ward, Eric Staal, Erik Cole, Exit Interviews, How Many Days Until Hockey, IIHF World Championships, Jeff Skinner, Poni, Rick Rypien, Steve Chaisson Award, Take Five, Team Suomi, Tim Gleason, Tuomo Ruutu