Honest, it’s almost hockey season

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On the eve of the month when business finally picks up in the NHL, let’s bid farewell to a few topics that determined fans will now be able to forget about and concentrate on more important matters. You know, things like the No. 1 defence pairing in Abbotsford, Liam Reddox’s potential linemates and the over-under for the number of times in the coming weeks and months that the words “Luongo” and “extension” will appear in the same story on the pages of the Vancouver Sun or the Province.

Issue 1: The forgotten sons

As August gives way to September, let the record show that the list of those who remain NHL contract-less — and in most cases, it’s not the players’ idea — includes Mats Sundin, Mike Comrie, Robert Lang, Rob Niedermayer, Radek Bonk, Manny Malhotra, Michael Peca, Chris Gratton, Dean McAmmond, Dan Fritsche, Jiri Novotny, Eric Perrin, Blair Betts, Josh Green, Craig MacDonald, Krys Kolanos, Ben Guite, Maxim Afinogenov, Miroslav Satan, Petr Sykora, Michel Ouellet, Dan Hinote, Ryan Bayda, Dominic Moore, Taylor Pyatt, Kyle Calder, Andy Hilbert, Martin Skoula, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Christian Backman, Philippe Boucher, Francis Bouillon, Patrice Brisebois, Jassen Cullimore, Darryl Sydor, Dennis Seidenberg, Manny Fernandez, Olaf Kolzig, Curtis Joseph, Manny Legace, Kevin Weekes and Marc Denis.

Some of the above are gone from the NHL for good and some will eventually sign on somewhere or other. Others may get an NHL tryout and others yet may end up in Europe or in the minors. In any event, it’s just another reminder that for every Raymond Bourque, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky who gets a star-spangled farewell from the game, there are dozens of others who exit stage right with barely a whimper.

Issue 2: Where’s Dany?

L’Affaire Heater is far from over, of course, but at least the summer-long game of “Where’s Dany” is behind us now that the mercurial winger has finally made public comments on the matter of his discontent in the Nation’s Capital. Based on what he said, you have to wonder why he bothered. If weeks of seclusion in his B.C. summer getaway could produce no better explanation than “I’m not happy with my declining role with the Senators” and “I’m not very happy with the way the media has portrayed me in a bad light” then get this fellow and his handlers to Spin Doctoring 101 classes as soon as possible. Then again, for an increasingly unsympathetic figure who has burned his bridges with at least three NHL franchises while playing only for two, public relations has never been a forte.

By way of contrast, one thinks back to Darren McCarty during his time with the Flames when fresh word leaked of his financial troubles, the situation being so dire that his Stanley Cup rings were being put up for auction. There was all sorts of emotional and legal baggage associated with that little revelation but instead of hiding, McCarty agreed to face the media en masse to issue explanations and answer questions. He even managed to preface the session with a joke, innocently looking at the media mob and asking: “Did you want to talk to me about something?” Whatever sins McCarty has committed, his handling of the unpleasant situation had a lot more people rooting for him then than Heatley does now.

Issue 3: The Phoenix Coyotes

The Never-ending Saga of the Phoenix Coyotes is another story that ain’t going away anytime soon, but at least it will soon be a pleasant diversion to sprinkle in some references to Mikkel Boedker, Peter Mueller, Kyle Turris, Keith Yandle, Shane Doan et al when discussing the Desert Dogs. The topic of actual hockey can’t come soon enough, especially since the ownership/bankruptcy wars has degenerated into a nasty game of besmirching the character of that would-be owner or any number of current owners. Taken to its logical conclusion, that game would result in the hockey world noticing an awful lot of unclothed emperors and, well, let’s just say that even Derek Boogaard’s skating is a more visually appealing image.

On that note, we say good riddance to August and welcome September. Let the first “Ha, nobody wants to play in your city/Oh yeah, how many Cup banners do YOU have?” exchange of the season begin.

  • Wanye Gretz

    Well I just think it's fantastic that this is how we are behaving when we have company writing for us from Calgary.

    *knows Flames fans are pointing to our commentary and saying "see? SEE?"*

  • Jay Gray

    How much do I hate the Flames…hmmmm, would I laugh if they all perished in a plane crash, well I wouldn't laugh, but I probably wouldn't mop around all that much either.

  • ronaldo

    @ LM
    I agree on the 5-cup thing.

    However the Phaneuf hattrick is one helping of sloppy seconds, one kill of a wooly mammoth, and one date with Pierre Mcquire.

  • Librarian Mike

    ronaldo wrote:

    @ Librarian Mike
    While that sounds nice and all, they are our sworn, mortal enemy of which only one can survive, so……no. Cowtown hosers…u suck. Go Oil!
    (Canucks and Leafs- u suck too.)
    Ahhhh,feels good, bring on the season.

    Haha. Fair enough. I can live with that, but I'd like to call a moratorium on the whole '5 CUPS' thing. It just makes us seem pathetic. Instead, let's try some new stuff:

    i.e. The Phaneuf Hattrick: 1 big hit, 1 bad penalty, -1 on the night.

  • hatecrime

    i think everyone should cross their fingers and hope for a couple things.first that horcoff plays to the level that he is getting paid this year.second cogs and gagner gel and play like the second line everyone thought they were going to be last year.oh yeah one more thing GO OILERS!!!!!!!!!

  • Samwise

    but a team made up from that list would probably not be 30th at season's end. Too many players playing for better contracts/one last kick would mean there might be some cohesion…

  • DangerMan

    The fact that Seidenberg doesn't have a contract yet is absurd. Either he has an idiot for an agent or he's a total dink. But either way, I'm shocked he hasn't been signed by someone yet. He was very instrumental in Carolina's run last year.

    As for making a team out of the contractless, it would make for a good expansion team but too many one dimentional players on that list to be taken seriously.

  • ronaldo

    @ Archy
    The nhl could put the team together and film it reality style for a season. I would actually watch that, and they would instantly be my second favorite team. It would be a great story and probably get better ratings in the states than regular nhl games.

  • ronaldo

    @ Librarian Mike
    While that sounds nice and all, they are our sworn, mortal enemy of which only one can survive, so……no. Cowtown hosers…u suck. Go Oil!
    (Canucks and Leafs- u suck too.)
    Ahhhh,feels good, bring on the season.

  • Librarian Mike

    Archaeologuy wrote:

    Does anyone else think that a team could be made of the contractless that would compete pretty well most nights? I count 8 ex-oilers, is that right?

    I see what you mean. You could sign them for $1 million each, I'd bet. I can think of a coach who's unemployed and has a knack for veterans with lots of 'jam'…How depressing would it be if they ended up being better than the Oilers?

  • Librarian Mike

    Instead of going back and forth between "Nobody wants to play in your city nyah nyah" and "We were a better team 20 years ago than you were", I think it's time to unite in a common cause: ripping on the other Canadian teams!

    "Luongo is a great 'regular season' goalie!"

    "The Leafs think Komisarek is a top defenseman!"

    "The Habs are even smaller than the Oilers!"

    "Dany F$$king Heatley!"

    This season is going to be hilarious, so come on, let's not fight my fellow Albertans.