Monday, August 10, 2009

Over the hump of 'Hockey Hell' (H)

We've all turned the corner. It's August. Next month, at this time, NHL teams will be reporting for training camp all over North America. We've almost gone thru the 'Hockey Hell' of summer, when there are no games, no events, nothing to talk about.

There are even teams selling regular-season tickets already (LA Kings), and others (NY Islanders, Florida, Tampa Bay) will start selling tickets before August is done and over with. The Minnesota Wild will begin selling tickets for their three pre-season home games August 22, but (like most other NHL teams) will wait until the NHL-mandated date of Saturday, September 12 to begin selling regular-season tickets.

But has it really been that bad a summer? Or are Wild fans just that anxious?

Since the Wild took the ice last (April 10, at Columbus; Wild won 6-3) the following has taken place...

Jacques Lemaire resigned (April 10)
Doug Risebrough was fired (April 16)
Chuck Fletcher replaced Risebrough (May 22)
Wild Road Trip outstate appearances (June 22-25)
Todd Richards replaced Lemaire (June 22)
NHL Entry Draft (June 26-27)
The end of the Gaborik era (June 30)
The beginning of Free Agency (July 1, also
known as the beginning of the Martin Havlat era)
Rookie Developmental Camp (July 6-12)
NHL Schedule Release Day (July 15)

...and now, the summer abyss. No new player signings (yet; stay tuned!), no old players with new teams (hey, no one has bothered to sign Martin Skoula yet) and no news of any real impact from anywhere. Yes, the Glendale Follies continue in Arizona, as the Phoenix Coyotes saga continues to deteriorate into an absolute legal quagmire. The two men who share ownership of the Tampa Bay Lightning can't stand each other, so now their future is in question. Ditto the Atlanta Thrashers; the owners (Atlanta Spirit, LLC) can't get along, either. If the cards fall the wrong way for the NHL, Gary Bettman may be de facto operating three franchises by the end of 2009.

Hello, Winnipeg? Are you listening up there?

And on top of all of that, there are the little things that if it happened any other time but in August, wouldn't be made into as big an item as it has been. Such as the Kane boys and their 'out-on-the-town' after-hours activities in Buffalo last weekend. Mind you, all this was over 20 cents. In the grand scheme of things, you have to ask yourself: 'Is it worth it to embarass my cousin by arguing over 20 stinkin' cents'?

Answer: Uh, no.

Was it really worth it to run up thousands in legal bills for the Kane cousins to get their (literally) 'two-bit' point across? Or was this another case of 'bad karma' for the Blackhawks, courtesy of the free-agency signing of one Marian Hossa? Think about it...Dale Tallon fired, the Hawks finding out Hossa is needing shoulder reconstruction surgery (not ready at least until after Thanksgiving) only after they sign him to a break-the-bank contract, and now, one of their top 3 players in trouble with the law in his hometown. Is this the ghost of Hossa rearing his ugly head again for the increasingly 'tough-luck' Hawks? Or was this just poor judgement by a pair of over-served 20-somethings in Buffalo late on an August night? Only time (and the courts) will tell.

Until then, Kane family, next time tell the cab driver to keep the change.

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