It's that time of year...
With the season set to start on Wednesday, it seems there's all kinds of hockey-related materials everywhere. Here's a quick pick through some of the more interesting things I recommend to have a look at:
- Peter Cheney of The Globe and Mail's piece in the Globe Toronto section on Saturday was a great read about the challenge of being a hockey parent in Canada's largest city. I was struck, almost immediately upon moving here, just how few rinks per people there are in this city, and the challenges that creates for minor hockey are enormous — that is, if you can afford to sign your kids up at all.
- I've been catching episodes of the CBC's Hockey: A People's History most Sundays, and it's an excellent series about the rise of the game and its roots in Canadian culture.
- The hockey reality series Making the Cut is back for a second series, but this time it's on a different network (Global). They've made substantial changes this time around, but I really haven't caught enough of the show to really weigh in. I'm hoping the episodes will be available for download later so I can get a better idea of what happened. (Although I did notice Kamloops Blazers grad Jarret Lukin is taking part — he's the one that lost his lunch during the early morning run on Episode 1.)
- Hockey returns to television in Canada this week, beginning on Wednesday night on TSN and continuing on Thursday on CBC. Both networks are stepping up their coverage once again, as TSN will be showing 69 regular-season games and Hockey Night in Canada will have 81 — both of which have to be all-time highs. Regional network Sportsnet will also be showing 15 Leafs games in Toronto, and close to 40 for each of the other Canadian teams (save Montreal, who are broadcast on RDS). There's going to be so much hockey on cable TV, I'm almost questioning why I shelled out for Centre Ice this year. Almost.
- The NHL preseason schedule finally wrapped up last night, and the teams that excelled were somewhat surprising. Among the suspects you'd expect at the top of the standings like Buffalo (5-1), the Rangers (5-2), San Jose (6-2) and Detroit (6-1-2) were teams like Chicago (7-1), Washington (3-2-1) and Los Angeles (4-1-1).
- Preseason scoring leaders of note were the likes of Milan Michalek from San Jose (7 goals), Mike Fisher from Ottawa (10 points) and Dustin Penner from Anaheim (8 points). Patrick Marleau led all scorers with 12 points, but that's no surprise, while such unheralded names like Chicago's Jeff Hamilton (8 points), Columbus's Geoff Platt (7 points) and Anaheim's Ryan Shannon (6 points) all put up solid numbers. An interesting trait of all of the last three? All are 5 foot 10 or less, and all put up big numbers in the AHL last season. So don't be surprised to see them showing up on regular-season scoresheets.
Aside from all that, there's still university sports to be talked about, so here's a little ditty about a Canadian kicker who went from worst to first.