The first day of the NHL season always feels like the morning of your birthday, doesn't it? You're excited, checking out the fancy giftwrap, hoping when you open the gifts up, they're cool presents and not another pair of knitted long underwear from your weird aunt out west.
On the first day of the season, every hockey fan has something to look forward to. In no particular order, here are my top 10 things to thrill to in the NHL this year.
1. My team for the inaugural XM Radio/Hockeybuzz.com fantasy draft. I picked second overall, and only made one boneheaded move (tried to take Patrice Bergeron in the ninth round; I know, whadda putz.) Here's the lineup, in the order they were selected:
1. Alex Ovechkin
2. Tomas Vokoun
3. Phil Kessel
4. Wade Redden
5. Dion Phaneuf
6. Paul Kariya
7. Chris Neil
8. Jason Arnott
9. Michael Nylander
10. Brian Rolston
Five forwards, two defensemen, one rookie, one goalie, and one goon. You can follow the draft results all year at hockeybuzz.com. I really think Chris Neil is going to put me over the top in this one. And that's a sentence I never, ever thought I'd write.
2. The Phoenix Coyotes. Whether they're tearing up the league with their young, skilled defense corps, or whether they're losing and Jeremy Roenick is having a meltdown in front of the media, this is a team worth watching.
3. Five Words: Kerry Fraser With A Helmet. If the league allows Lou Lamoriello salary cap relief, the least they owe Fraser is some sort of deal where his fine head of hair can breathe. My advice? Give his new lid a retractable roof.
4. Not having to call the Ducks Â“MightyÂ” anymore. Not that they're not. Not by a longshot.
5. Jack Bauer escaping from the evil Chinese on Â“24Â”. I mean, Â“Seeing if this is the year the Senators finally put it all together.Â” Ho-hum.
6. The No. 1 line in San Jose. Joe Thornton, Jonathan Cheechoo and Mark Bell are going to have themselves some fun this year. So are Sharks fans.
7. Breaking the news that members of the Buffalo Sabres were involved in a lewd boat cruise scandal. Actually, that's not true. Their new logo caused me to confuse them with the Minnesota Vikings. My bad.
8. Some confluence of events that results in Cheechoo, Jordan Tootoo and Tuomo Ruutu on the same line. Need I explain further?
9. Gary Bettman's Stanley Cup speech. C'mon, somebody's gotta have an Internet countdown clock for this. Whatever will the commish say? The heart flutters in anticipation.
10. A full year of the new-and-improved THN.com. With this blog, the Â“Ask AdamÂ” feature, Ken Campbell's fine contributions and more, we think we've heightened the online experience of all hockey fans. And we bet you'll agree.