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Loose Change: Let the games begin

Oh, this is sweet. I can’t believe it’s finally here. After almost four months of waiting, and with the obvious youthful anticipation accompanying it, FedEx finally delivered my chocolate Obi-Wan Kenobi action figure.

Oh…and the hockey season’s starting. Probably should mention that as well.

I’m guessing you’re pretty stoked. The NHL needs you devout fans, even the less devout. And, the apathetic. Let’s not forget them. Ehh, who cares.

The season officially starts early Saturday with the New York Rangers at the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, a small note to all patrons parking at the St. Pete Times Forum: You’re in for a bit of a walk.

Interesting to see the league being cocky like this; starting its season in the European leagues’ own backyard. It’s akin to the tuba player in the school band picking on the pimple-faced flutist.

In total, the NHL will play four games in Europe to begin the 2008-09 campaign. The aforementioned Rangers at Lightning in Prague, followed the next day by the Lightning at the Rangers, also played in Prague (but with the Rangers batting last in the second game).

Ottawa also starts the season overseas, against the Penguins, somewhere in Scandinavia it is believed. (Unless you’re actually going to the games, the locations aren’t important. And if you are going, this is probably not the best place to find directions.)

But we all know you’re not here to determine the Floopstrom Forum’s address. You’re here for predictions. You want someone bold to lay their renowned reputation on the line with some brazen declarations. Lucky for you, I like making predictions. And lucky for me, I’m not renowned.

You won’t hear Loose Change joining all the other talking heads in parroting that the Red Wings are (oh golly) “the team to beat.” Personally I think the team to beat is the Minnesota Wild. Any team wearing a god-awful jersey like that deserves a good beating.

I see 16 teams qualifying for the playoffs (no more, no less), no later than April 7th. Kansas City will not be one of them.

Florida will play host to Columbus in March to an overflowing capacity crowd with Hollywood A-listers and the Pope in attendance. President Palin will drop the ceremonial first puck. Commissioner Bettman will subsequently ask that his house be checked for gas leaks.

Derek Morris for the Norris sounds good. He doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning it, but it does sort of roll off the tongue.

The Vezina Trophy will go to a goaltender who catches with his left hand (In case you weren’t aware, Mr. Theodore, yours was mandated by a quota – freak).

I predict the Toronto Maple Leafs will win eight games in October. Wait, scratch that, this time with proper punctuation: I predict (comma) the Toronto Maple Leafs will win eight games (comma) in October.

Surprise team of the year? The L.A. Kings. Seriously, I thought they had folded.

And finally, this year’s Stanley Cup champion? I’m picking Stockholm. Whilst the Senators and Penguins are lazily preparing to start the season in Europe, guess who’s having the locks changed at Scotiabank Place? If last year proved anything, it’s to never underestimate the tenacity of a Swede.

The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every other Thursday in the summer only on thehockeynews.com. Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.

Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at charlieteljeur@hotmail.com

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