HOCKEY’S BACK!!!

Is anyone as excited about this as me? NHL Hockey is back on the ice tomorrow and my team, the Edmonton Oilers, play their first game against the Canucks on Sunday. The longer off-season for the Oilers was a good thing as they continued to develop some of their younger talents with the Oklahoma City Barons. Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, RNH and Justin Schultz all played together down there. There were also some that played in Europe or on the Gold medal Spengler Cup team (Ryan Smyth-glad he’s back with the Oil!, Sam Gagner and Devan Dubnyk). Also the addition of 1st overall pick, Nail Yakupov, will make the young Oiler core even more exciting to watch! Young, fast and offensively talented like the Oilers of the 1980’s.
Some great World Juniors hockey was played over Christmas with the USA Juniors taking the gold. Canada had a strong round-robin beating both the US and Russia in close games but couldn’t get it done when it mattered. “The Nug” had a great tournament. Oh well Canada, there is always next year! The World Juniors is a great Christmas tradition, I always wear my Team Canada autographed jersey from the gold medal SLC Olympic team that time of year.
On another note, I am so glad that the vast majority of professional hockey players are humble and don’t act like some of the punk basketball and football players. This comment might make a few people mad but look at the facts…So there is fighting in hockey, but it is part of the game and these guys respect each other. After some of the epic Marty McSorley-Bob Probert brawls you see them pat each others’ head and tell each other “good fight”. They knew their role on the team and were great hockey players as well. I have seen both of them score some pretty goals and anyone that played with them said they were great teammates. Off the ice, these guys are totally different. George Laraque is a perfect example, he has now retired but is totally into animal rights and a lot of other causes. George always had respect for the guys he fought and gave them a chance to get ready. One of my favorite ones that shows how much of a gentlmen he is was when he was in Phoenix and “mic’d up” for a game. I love the way he says “You want to?” “Okay” “Square-up?” and “Okay, good luck man”. The best is when he slowly puts his gloves down on the ice right before the fight. Check it out and turn up the volume so you can hear George. And no, I wasn’t a goon when I played. I fought when I had to but would rather put pucks in the net than sit in the “sin-bin”. GO OILERS!

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