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Loose Change: Welcome back, Casual Fan!

Will NHL arenas run full in the wake of Olympic excitement? (Getty Images)

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Will NHL arenas run full in the wake of Olympic excitement? (Getty Images)

Hey it’s you, Casual Fan. Nice to see you again. Been well?

Let me guess, you’re from the Deep South? Reno? You’re American, right? Wait. No, you’re a Psych Professor at a Canadian University? McGill? A Belgian diplomat? Am I right?

Hell of a game on Sunday, eh huh? In all reality the big winner was Canada hockey fans everywhere.

Twenty-seven million Americans watched the Olympic final. That’s incredible. That’s more than the Daytona 500 (too fast), The World Series (too slow) and The Masters (too old). It still doesn’t touch the numbers of fine programming like American Idol and Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? but we have to learn to walk before we can run (or skate before you can glide).

Commissioner Gary Bettman is downright giddy. He thinks the world is finally warming up to ice hockey (kind of contradictory, but poetic). It’s highly likely you’ll be getting some sort of flier in the mail soon, a little teaser on where you can get your next hockey fix.

If you’re in Canada, you’ll be fine since every station in the Great White North is mandated to air at least nine hours of hockey a day (even the ‘I Hate Hockey Channel’).

If you’re south of the 49th parallel (the border without the barbed wire, Humvees and snipers) finding a game or two might be a bit more of a challenge. Occasionally it’s shown nationally on NBC (note: they repeat the same Colorado vs. Detroit game).

ESPN doesn’t carry hockey anymore, but they do run the highlights 46 minutes into the show, so you’ll have time to make yourself a sandwich.

NHL coverage is on Versus. Do you get Versus? What do you mean you’ve never heard of Versus? How else do you watch rodeo?

So you’re probably wondering what hockey has to offer for you now. What’s different this time?

Well, we dumped that FoxTrax Puck thing. I mean, what kind of person’s impressed by a gimmicky laser beam clogging a professional sports telecast? What’s that? Yeah, I suppose we could get it back. I’ll look into it.

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And we have shootouts now. If the game’s tied at the end of a overtime period we do this breakaway challenge thing until someone succumbs. It’s pretty cool and, yes, we can get the laser thing back for you if that helps (I figured you’d ask).

We have 30 teams now, probably one very close to where you live (apologies to Wyoming and Kenya) and you won’t have a lot of difficulty getting a seat most nights, assuming they’re still in business the particular night you go (please call ahead).

You might want to look into season’s tickets as well. Very affordable. So’s franchise ownership. Bring your VISA.

We still have an 82-game regular season and 53 percent of the teams qualify for the playoffs. We figure why limit success to something frivolous and arbitrary like a winning record?

You might notice the pace of NHL hockey slightly slower than that of the Olympics. That tournament was the best of the best in a winner-take-all sudden-death format. Ours is more mellow and paced, like chamomile tea. Nothing says relaxation like Columbus versus Edmonton.

Hey, where are you going? That laser puck just arrived.

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre cartoon, brings you the humor column Loose Change every Tuesday. 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? Check out his website at charlieteljeur.com.

For the first time ever, you have a chance to buy original hockeysockpuppettheatre cartoons straight from the source (I finally wrangled the rights from my Taiwanese overlords). They are perfect as gift even if the recipient has the exact same name as you. Interested? Click here.

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