After a few weeks holiday and an excellent trip to New York, it is nice to be back so close to the start of another NHL season. September is a great month for sports fans, the NFL kicks off, the CFL is into the home stretch, MLB nears the playoffs and most importantly hockey is back. 

I’ve seen, read and heard some interesting tales and events the past few weeks.

  • I had a lucky meeting with Ryan Whitney on my flight home from New York on Monday. Both of us were transfering in Chicago and we chatted briefly about his summer, the Red Sox and of course his ankle. He tweaked it a few weeks ago, but he got an MRI last week and everything looks good. His doctor told him that a "tweak" is normal with his type of injury and he needs to be patient. I got the sense that patience was not his strongest virtue at this point. He was hopeful that with eight pre-season games he would have ample time to be ready for the start of the season.
  • The past few seasons we’ve witnessed the deadly/painful combination of average talent and key injuries and how it can impact the Oilers. While many in Edmonton feel the Oilers have improved, due to trades, UFA signings and another year of experience for the kids, the Oilers blueline is still pretty thin. If Whitney’s ankle isn’t close to 100% the Oilers will be in trouble. Based on depth, or lack thereof, I don’t see any player’s health being more important than Whitney’s. He came to town early to get some extra treatment, which he hopes will speed up the healing process, and for the Oilers’ sake let’s hope he is right. 
  • Speaking of patience, it seems many in the hockey world need a big dose of it when it comes to Sidney Crosby. Crosby will update the hockey world today at 10:30 a.m; you can listen to it live on TEAM 1260 or watch it on Sportsnet. I’m hoping his update will be that he is progressing and is on pace to return some time this season. Keep in mind that it took Patrice Bergeron 11 months before he was back after Randy Jones crushed him in October of 2007. Crosby has only been out 8 months, and if he needs another three, five or ten months no one should rush him, or jump to conclusions that his career is over. It sounds like Crosby has been cautious during his recovery and if he feels any symptoms he pulls back. Every report on concussions proves that Crosby will be more prone to concussions in the future, but I’m glad to see that he won’t be rushing back. I hope the hockey world supports and urges him to be cautious, and eventually we will see him back on the ice.
  • Wade Belak’s sudden passing seemed to rock the hockey world and fans even more than the unfortunate passing of Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien. I think that’s because Belak came across as such a happy and carefree character. Many of us use sports as an outlet or release from everyday life. It almost seems like a fantasy that players get paid millions to play a game, and most people would love that opportunity, but Belak’s death re-inforced that athletes are human. Despite all the glory, fame and money they can suffer just like normal people. Some days we like to look at athletes and think how great their life must be, and often it is, but Belak’s passing proved that real life problems lurk in all walks of life. Let’s hope for the sake of players and fans we don’t have to discuss another death anytime soon.
  • This is only a hunch, but I see Alex Ovechkin scoring 60 goals this year. 
  • I also think Taylor Hall will not suffer the alleged sophomore jinx. I see him scoring 38 goals.
  • My Over/Under on games played by Ales Hemsky this year is 64. I’m going to surprise you and take the over. 
  • Magnus Paajarvi is the biggest head scratcher for me. He picked up his play in the 2nd half of the season last year, yet I’m torn on where is game will be this year. For me he is the biggest wildcard, and that could be a good thing. 
  • What is a realistic expectation for Tom Gilbert this season? Is 30 point realistic? I don’t think points is what we should focus on when it comes to Gilbert. He needs to improve his consistency and his competitiveness. Of course you would like to see him produce offensively, but for me this season he needs to become more reliable. He can’t be a wildcard from game-to-game or week-to-week.  
  • We are planning a sports road trip. If you could pick one NFL and one NHL venue that would make your "bucket list’ let me know.
  • The Buccaneers are my surprise team to make the Super Bowl. I also see the Houston Texans finally making the playoffs. Keep in mind the Texans have missed the playoffs with records of 10-6 and 11-5 in two of the past three years. They will be a legit contender this year. 
  • Thoughts and prayers for those affected by the Lokomotiv plane crash earlier today. This has been a brutal summer for hockey. 
  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I’ve thought about a trip to Pennsylvania. Want to see my Steelers play and at the same time try catch a Pens game and maybe Flyers. Heaven forbid I was able to see the Eagles as well.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    I see 33-38 for Hall. 50-62 for Ovechkin. Even if Gilbert plays a solid defensive game he’ll still be roasted unless he is close to 40 points.

    My wild cards are going to be Barker on the backend and Omark up front. Barker was brutal last year. Peckham, Smid, Vandermeer out produced him while Petry tied him and Chorney was 1 point behind in less games. If this kid could get back to his 08-09 numbers or at least close to them, he’ll be a huge player for this team. With that being said if he is putting up a 10 point season he’ll be a complete waste. As for Omark if the kid continues to get better he really could make a mess on the RW and allow us to have some options on the trade market.

  • I’ve always wanted to watch a Habs vs Leafs game in Montreal. It’s not the Forum but it’s a Hockey first arena in a Hockey mad city against their most hated rivals.

    I think baggedmilk is on to something. Lambo field would be cool, but Jerry Jones’ new stadium for the Cowboys would be amazing to see too.

    I’m a sucker for Hemsky predictions. I’ll take the over too.

    Gilbert needs to nut up and start jumping into the play more often. He could be soft as butter if he’s scoring again.

  • since I’ve only attended NHL, NBA and CFL for the big leagues and those were only in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton I will offer my favorite US cities and ones’ on my wish list that I would like to visit.

    Favorite US Cities – Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, Phoenix

    Wish List US Cities – New Yawk, Dallas, Boston

  • Bob Cobb

    Since I went to a game at Maple Leaf Gardens and the Forum is closed I would have to say either, as stated previous MSG, or Joe Louis Arena would be on my bucketlist. As far as NFL, probably Soldier Field in Chicago or Lambeau Field. Baseball would be Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park or Wrigley Field.

  • This is a really tough choice, as there are so many great cities to choose from between the two leagues, but here is my list of cities that I would like to visit/revisit (I am basing this more on the city, than the team):

    NFL Cities:
    1. New Orleans (never been there, and looks like fun)
    2. San Diego (my personal favorite place that I have ever been)
    3. Chicago (looks like a great city to visit)

    NHL Cities
    1. Chicago
    2. New York (been there, loved it…I would time this with a Yankees)
    3. Boston

  • Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things

    Swing by Winnipeg in February for the first Edmonton/Winnipeg game in 15 years. Brews at my place before-hand.

    Edit: Oh, NFL… There’s a Hooters down the block. Yeah.

  • John Chambers

    The new arena opening in Pittsburgh next year is going to be amazing. They’re doing all kinds of things with technology to enhance the fan experience.

    Watching Crosby and Malkin in their prime, followed by a Sunday afternoon at Three Rivers.

    Ahh Ahhhh. You know what it is. Black and Yellow Black and Yellow Black and Yellow.

  • NFL – Oakland of course! That would be something to behold.

    NHL – Um…RX2? The rinks are mostly new around the league so not as much history. Maybe Joe Louis, or Glendale since you probably won’t be able to go there much longer. Or how about Winnipeg on opening night? That’s gonna be crazy.

  • O.C.

    NHL Venue (other than the next building for Edmonton). Montreal, December 31st.

    NFL Venue. (other than wherever the Superbowl is). Green Bay, Monday Night, in late October.

  • O.C.

    “We are planning a sports road trip. If you could pick one NFL and one NHL venue that would make your “bucket list’ let me know.”

    Is this a travel agency sports tour or for Jason & his buds?

  • Drew - Team no more tanking

    Going to LA in late March/early April to watch the Oilers play back to back nights against the Kings and Ducks on the Sunday/Monday (April 1st and 2nd). Hopefully going on a pub crawl on the Friday night. Have flights, hotels, car rental booked, so it’s as for sure as it gets.

    Best part, the wife and I get to leave the kids with my dad (thanks dad!!!!)

    Edit: p.s. in terms of the BoSox I would ask Whitney how he feels about them outscoring the Jays 24-11 in a three game series but losing 2 games to 1.

    Edit: p.p.s. No I wouldn’t!!!

  • justDOit

    Bucket list for the NHL would have to be MSG on any night that the Isles or Devils are visiting. For the NFL – might be the Packers, but don’t really care for football.

    Wildcards for the Oilers will be Omark and Petry, but only because I expect both to show us what they’ve got.

    Hemsky over 65 games??? Is there a limit I can take on under on that one? Because I think he’ll be traded way before he’s played 65 games this season, so even if he doesn’t get injured, he won’t play more than 65 for the Oilers.

  • Lofty

    I would have to suggest looking at the Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving day game… One of the best tailgates in the world. They play Miami this year and the Stars are at home around the holiday, playing TO or LA . Watching the stars wouldnt be anything special but the watching the Cowboys in Jerry’s house is pretty cool.

    Would also suggest trying to see the Army vs. Navy NCAA game and then driving to Washington or Carolina for an NHL game.

  • Lofty

    Already have my tickets – Oilers @ Blackhawks Sun, Nov 13 and Vikings @ Packers Mon, Nov 14!

    But the next one… I would love to catch an NHL game in Montreal. NFL… Maybe a trip to see the Cowboys (strictly for the architecture).