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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Leafs Fan Fest Was Certainly Not Fun Fest

If I had to choose three words to describe my trip on Saturday to the Toronto Maple Leafs fan fest the best words would be; lines, disorganization and more lines. What started out as a simple attempt to thank the fans and bring them more access to the team, ended with many fans being turned off of the organization.

Many fans left the event disgruntled, tired and frustrated after standing in lines for hours on hours on hours and receiving poor treatment from many of the staff.

Normally I wouldn't venture anywhere near an event like this, but since I had never been to a "fan fest" of sorts and a good friend asked me to attend with them, we bought into the Leafs advertisement hook, line and sinker. To say we left disappointed would be an understatement.

I'll go into some detail into what our crazy day at the event looked like.

We kicked off our day at the Air Canada Centre around 10:30 in the morning. We immediately went to
Crazy packed activities section. 
check out the new and improved Real Sports, which was awesome. However, the store was extremely busy and we had to stand around for several minutes waiting for someone to help us.

Once someone finally realized we needed help, they were perfectly helpful and my friend was able to place her jersey order. They told us to come back in an hour and half, so we decided to go check out the autograph line.

There were lines of people everywhere, most of whom had no idea what they were lined up for, but we scooted around them and made our way to the 300 level where the autographs were going down. We expected lines of course, but nothing like what we were met with.

There were waves of people lined up everywhere and it took awhile before we were pointed in the general direction toward the end of the line. We walked for a good 10-15 minutes finding absolutely no end to any line on either side of the building. The line seemed to go on forever and when we heard someone say the wait time was going to be 3.5 hours, we hightailed it out of there.

Getting player autographs was cool and all but not worth spending the entire day trapped in line while likely missing the time slot of the player who's autograph you seek. We made our way down to the Maple Leafs dressing room tour a highlight both my friend and I were excited to do.

Once we got down to the ice level where it was being held, we found our way to the tunnel where the Leafs dressing room was located. Once again we were met with a big line. "How bad can it be?" we thought as we walked towards the end of the line which once again seemed to stretch on forever. When the end was finally in sight we asked a staff if this was the line we were looking for and if we could join it at the end. He looked at us and rudely said "no, come back at 1."

Disappointed we went into the fan interaction zone which was located right on the ice rink. People were packed in the little space like sardines and you could barely move a muscle. People were taking pictures all over and lines stretched everywhere. Once again you couldn't tell which line was for what event and people were complaining about the hour long wait times.

We then ventured into the crowded and disorganized Leafs equipment sale before hitting up the visitors dressing room tour. The visitors dressing room tour was pretty cool and a rare activity that didn't have a crazy line, in fact there wasn't a line at all. It was really fun and I got to put on a pair of pads in Carey Price's stall which was really cool.

Side note, as a big Ryan Miller fan there is a good chance he sits where I got to sit today which is super cool.

We then headed for the second best part of the day, lunch. For once the Leafs delivered on their
promise with reasonably priced food items. Seeing much cheaper and affordable prices on the concessions was truly great, I'll try to remember those when I pay regular price during the season.

After a great and relaxing lunch we went to go check on my friends jersey since they told us it would be ready in an hour and a half. We stood at the pick-up desk for 10 minutes before someone noticed us. When the guy came over he looked at the ticket, shook his head and walked away. No mention of how much longer or anything.

Once again disappointed we chilled in the stands for a bit before heading back to the dressing room tour. We asked what we needed to do to get in and they told us to just find the end of the line, so we did. Once we were at the end of the line we tried to join it but got yelled at by security who told us we needed a bracelet.

We had no clue where these bracelets were and had just swam through a massive mob of people trying to meet Dave Nonis in a crowded hallway, the proposition of going back was not one we enjoyed. The security guard pointed back toward the crowd and we got pretty annoyed. Thankfully the bracelets weren't far away and we didn't have to brace the mob again.

They let our group into the line at roughly 12:50 and we got into the dressing room in roughly 35 minutes. The line went really quick and we were super excited to finally see into the dressing room.  Being able to film and capture photos throughout the tour was even better.

The only downside to the tour was the massive roped off section that severely limited movement. I get not stepping on the Leafs logo, that's a sacred tradition, but getting yelled at for even having a toe on the edge of the big blue carpet? That's a bit much. Never the less the dressing room tour was awesome and really lived up to the advertisement and excitement.

I then went to pick-up a Nikolai Kulemin jersey before we once again went to check on my friends jersey order. Finally around 2 the jersey was ready and she was ecstatic, Real Sports did an awesome job on her first Leafs jersey.

We then headed to the drop the puck station which was an absolute disaster. We started on the 100 level concourse, worked our way down the stairs to the ice surface and waited in three different rows on the ice. For context, I sent a text in the 2nd row on the ice at 3:30 and we didn't finish the puck
I touched the ice!
dropping station till 4:10.

The camera kept breaking, "too many photos" they said, so everyone had to get photo's taken on their phones which was a major hassle. I mean can't a corporation as big as MLSE afford a back-up camera or more memory cards or an extra battery?

After that my friend was fed up and demanded we leave, I wanted to do more stations but the long lines drove both of us away and we left before 4:30. We left tired, frustrated and disappointed, the only comment I could muster was "glad we didn't pay the full $60 for that."

Now before you accuse me of ragging on the event too much, let me just say this. Toronto Maple Leafs fan fest had the potential to be a FANTASTIC event. Unfortunately poor planning, little to no direction, hours on hours of waiting in lines to be turned away and some grumpy staff is a recipe for disaster. I also understand it was the first year for the event but come on.

They were expecting roughly 40,000 people over the weekend but the organization for an event that large was not there. It's not like a normal hockey game where everyone has a general idea of where they're going and an idea of what to expect. No one knew where to go or what to expect and no one was there to help. Whether expecting 40,000 or 10,000 the organization should have been better.

I missed tons of events/activities today, simply because I didn't know where they were located. On twitter there was talk about a fan guide that could be picked up, but I never saw one being offered anywhere.

Now I don't have a big issue with waiting in line, when it's worth the wait. The biggest issue I had was with the autograph line. Let's say you're lining up for Phil Kessel who's signing period is on from 2-3, if you're in line for 3 hours and you line-up at let's say 1, by the time you reach the front Kessel will be long gone. Heck I heard from people who were in line upwards of 4.5 hours only to be turned away. One guy claimed he was told the wait line was at least 6 hours for an autograph! By the time that guy reaches the front the guy he's looking for is long gone.

The simplest lesson that can be learned is that not everyone can embark on a place at once with the
same goal, it just doesn't work. Next time perhaps tickets to a specific player at a specific time or even spreading out the autograph sessions to different areas might be better.

There needed to be more communication, clearer direction and shorter lines. Not to mention they ran out of their free popcorn!

I only got to do two events today, some didn't even get to do that. All in all Toronto Maple Leafs fan fest was not as advertised and left more people with a sour taste in their mouths. Like I said above, it could have been awesome, but some more planning would have gone a long way.

Here are some tweets that sum up both the event and this article.


Sorry MLSE, Fan Fest was a joke for the fans and the ones who got it the worst were the kids who were so excited to meet their hero's but got screwed over. On the plus side I did get a cool fan band bracelet that I didn't use once at the actual event.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Dave Nonis and the Toronto Maple Leafs Have Mishandled Cap Space

Dave Nonis and the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in an interesting predicament. With just over a week till training camp there remains two key players who have not been re-signed- Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson. Arguably the Leafs best defenceman and most promising prospect remain un-signed as the Leafs try and find a way to keep both on the roster under the cap.

It's hard to feel sorry for the Maple Leafs who have poorly mismanaged their cap space this offseason. They currently have just under $4.9 million left in cap spca, but they've spent and waisted a lot of money this offseason. It all started with Tyler Bozak who was demanding first line money despite not being worth first line money. The Leafs knew they would have to give Bozak a decent pay day and were determined not to over pay for him, but they ended up handing him a 5 year $21 million deal.

Next we move to David Clarkson. I'm still not entirely sure why the Leafs needed a player like Clarkson, but he can be a valuable comodity and the Leafs decided they wanted that comodity. Problem is they massively overpayed giving him a 7 year deal worth $36.75 million. A $5.25 million cap hit (same as Joffrey Lupul) is a lot for a guy who's likely to be policing the third line and has only scored more than 20 goals once in his career.

 Finally we move to Jonathan Bernier, the goaltender who was brought in to rescue the Leafs Ben Scrivens but a cheap veteran would have done just fine. Instead they went out and acquired a young goaltender, virtually telling James Reimer he's not good enough and in the process screwed themselves with the cap. Without acquiring Bernier the Leafs would have $6,758,433 in cap space, which would have been enough to sign both Kadri and Franson. Instead they have just $4,895,833 left in cap space, not enough to sign both RFA's.

Also don't forget that Phil Kessel will need a new contract after this season, things are about to get real hot for Dave Nonis. The Leafs spent big money to rescue the goaltending which really didn't need rescuing. The Leafs had absolutely no reason to go out and acquire another number one goaltender, yes they needed an upgrade over Ben Scrivens but a cheap veteran would have done just fine.

In a perfect world the Leafs would want to sign both Franson and Kadri, but unless they buyout a contract or one of them caves to accept a horrible contract they won't be able to retain both.

Kadri is looking for deal around 6 years worth roughly $5.5 million a year, while the Leafs are looking at a bridge contract similiar to P.K Subban; roughly 2 years for $2.8 million. Kadri would be wise to accept the bridge contract in order to build up his resume and then demand more money in two years and if he has another year like last season he won't have to worry. But you can't exactly blame Kadri for his asking price. He sees the Leafs hand Bozak, nothing more than a glorified third line centre, $4.2 a year and since Kadri believes he's a better talent than Bozak he believes he's worth more. Truth be told neither player right now is worth anywhere near $4 million a year, but because Nonis has handed out some poor contracts others want the money.

The troublesome thing for the Leafs is they don't seem to even be in the same ballpark when negotiating with Kadri. Franson on the other hand is looking for a 4 year deal at $4 million a year, while the Leafs are looking for a 2 year deal worth $3 million a year. At least the Leafs are a little closer in terms with Franson, but it's looking like both players will want to play hardball.

Both Kadri and Franson played a pivot part in the Leafs return to the playoffs last season. Kadri burst onto the scene and has his best year putting up 18 goals and 26 assists, while Franson was a solid and
reliable defenceman all year long scoring 5 goals and adding 24 assists.

While the Leafs are stuck between a rock and a hard place right now, this was a completely avoidable problem. Nonis threw money around like there was no tomorrow during the offseason and now he's realizing that the money supply is running out and players won't play for nothing. Both Kadri and Franson deserve a respectable salary around $3 million, but the Leafs don't have the room.

With training camp looming closer and closer don't expect both to be there. The Kadri situation smells of what happened with Subban and a holdout may be imminent for Kadri. The Leafs, thanks to Nonis' loose wallet, don't have enough money to make both Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson happy which means a trade will be on the horizon.

Too bad Nonis didn't spend all that money this offseason on a viable upgrade all around. Locking up Kadri and Franson should have been first priority (after Bozak) for Nonis. If the Leafs do end up losing Kadri, they have no one but Nonis to blame for mismanaging the cap.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Season Preview: Anaheim Ducks

With NHL pre-season just over 30 days aways and the regular season just under 50 days away, it's time to gear up for the 2013-2014 NHL season. This will be the first instalment in the new "Season Preview" series, where we'll be teeing up the season for all 30 NHL teams. Our first stop will be in Anaheim, as we take a look at the Ducks upcoming season.

The Ducks are coming off a solid 2013 campaign that saw them back in the playoffs after a disappointing 2012-2013. Unfortunately, the Ducks didn't stay long in the postseason, as the Detroit Red Wings eliminated them in the first round.

Much like the Chicago Blackhawks, the Ducks were also able to ride their hot start right through to the playoffs. The Ducks opened the season winning 13 of their first 16 games. But with a full training camp and pre-season games, catching teams sleeping early on wont be easy. The good news is the Ducks will get their first training camp under Bruce Broudreau and have time to adjust to his fast-passed offence right off the bat.

Heading into next season there are three crucial questions the Ducks must answer. Who will play on the top line, will Teemu Selanne return and who starts between the pipes?

After sending Bobby Ryan to Ottawa this offseason, the Ducks must now find someone to step up and Dustin Penner, Jakob Silfverberg and the Ducks x-factor from last season Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri saw some time on the top line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf during the playoffs and may be able to spark the top line again. After putting up 10 points last season and having some experience on that line, Palmieri may get the first chance to crack the top line. Jakob Silfverberg would be another player who could slide up the line-up. He was acquired in the Bobby Ryan deal and also put up 10 goals last season. Dustin Penner could be reunited with his linemates who helped bring the Stanley Cup to Anaheim in 2007, should he get a chance to play on the top line. Penner, Silfverberg and Palmieri will be fighting it out to gain chemistry and a chance to anchor the Ducks top line.
fill his spot. There are three players who could easily fill in on that top line;

The great Teemu Selanne's future is once again up in the air. The Ducks have said that if Selanne wants to return they would leave a spot for him on their second line. Selanne now 43, is an unrestricted free-agent, but has made one of the greatest late career resurgences with the Ducks over the past 8 seasons. Does Selanne have one more season in him? He scored 12 goals and put up 24 points in 46 games last season with the Ducks, pretty solid numbers for someone in their 40's. If Selanne does decide to come back for one more season, it will no doubt help solidify the Ducks roster.

The Ducks don't have a goaltending controversy, they have a goaltending blessing right now. Both Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller are playing stellar hockey and they get along perfectly. Last season the John Gibson. Gibson burst onto the national scenes last season for his performance during the World Junior Championships, in which he not only lead the USA to a championship, he was also named MVP. In all likely hood Gibson will start the season in the AHL, but it wouldn't be a stretch to imagine him finishing the season with the Ducks, especially after he turns some heads at the US Olympic evaluation camp. If Fasth or Hiller, go down with an injury Gibson will be ready to step up to the plate. I'm not sure there is a team in the NHL with a better goaltending future than the Anaheim Ducks.
Ducks rode both Fasth and Hiller for various stretches and it worked, plus they both got along great off the ice. Hiller is entering the final year of his contract and Fasth is looking to take over the crease after signing his two-year extension. Both goalies will battle hard and likely split time for the majority of the season. Waiting in the wings is almost NHL ready goaltender

Player to Watch-
Ryan Getzlaf
After a rough season in 2011-2012, Getlaf bounced back putting up 49 points in 44 games last season. Has Getzlaf re-found his game? Can he lead the Ducks back to the post-season in 2014?

Things are looking bright in Anaheim next season. They have a steady mix of young players who are desperate to prove themselves and veterans who want to prove they've still got game. Riding either Fasth or Hiller throughout the season will help give the defence a little added boost. Look for the Ducks to make another trip to the postseason.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Why Having Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer Is Great For the Leafs

For many it came as a surprise that the Toronto Maple Leafs traded for goaltender Jonathan Bernier, after James Reimer helped propel the team back to the playoffs and nearly upset Tuukka Rask and the Boston Bruins. But it's really not that surprising that the Leafs were still looking to upgrade their goaltending after they were rumored to be looking at both Roberto Luongo and Miikka Kiprusoff during the season.

James Reimer proved himself to be a solid goaltender, but there are still a lot of questions surrounding the Leafs crease. What happens if, and based on the past, when Reimer goes down with an injury? In the two seasons Reimer has been the Leafs starter, he's been injured for periods of time in both. Can Reimer continue to shine when the Leafs don't? And most importantly can he perform in the playoffs? Reimer is a young goaltender trying to find his way in the NHL. He doesn't play many back-to-back games and can't really be counted on to start more than 50 games. The Leafs needed a better, more reliable and proven second goaltender other than Ben Scrivens, to help when Reimer needs a break.

Whether Reimer or the Toronto fans like it or not, the Leafs needed an update behind Reimer. Sure they didn't have to go and acquire another young goalie looking to become a bonafide number 1, when they had Reimer, but they did. While it may seem like acquiring Bernier was a deterrent for Reimer's confidence, it was actually a brilliant move by the Leafs.

When you look at the goaltending situations around the league you start to notice a trend; goalie tandems. Last season saw teams such as the St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins,  Anaheim Ducks and Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks, use both their goaltenders throughout the season. All five of the teams listed above not only operated with a 1A, 1B goaltending system- they also all made it to the postseason.

But let's focus on the Chicago Blackhawks use of the goalie tandem. After two rocky seasons with Corey Crawford at the helm and two first round playoff exits, the Blackhawks decided to bring in another goaltender to not only mentor Crawford but to also give him a break. The plan worked perfectly as Crawford led the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup Championship.

Obviously the Leafs didn't go with the veteran back-up route, but they got a young goalie who will help push Reimer to perform his best. If you're looking for someone to compare Reimer to you can look across to Crawford. Both are fairly young, in-experienced goaltenders with just 3 NHL seasons under their belts, have very similar career numbers, and both still have a lot to prove. It helped Corey Crawford to have another goaltender behind him, and it wouldn't hurt to give Reimer some motivation.

Is Jonathan Bernier an immediate upgrade over Reimer? No. It's too early to tell just how good Bernier
is. He's only played in 62 NHL games and while he's shown flashes of greatness during those games, the sample size is too small. Any half-decent goaltender can post solid numbers through 15 games, but until a goalie starts 30 games in a season their numbers don't say much.

With Bernier the Leafs don't know what they have yet, with Reimer on the other hand they know exactly what they have. A solid goaltender that is capable of bailing the team out and backstopping a team to the postseason. Based on experience and Reimer's play last season he should get the key to the crease to start off the year, but with Bernier bitting at his heals Reimer will be forced to play his best hockey. Besides, what's so bad about a little competition for the starting job?

Having both Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer battling for the right to claim the crease is a win-win for the Leafs. Both are solid young goaltenders, which want a starting role in the NHL and will have to play their best to get between the pipes. The Leafs now have two capable goalies that can step up to the plate anytime they're called upon. If Reimer get's hurt, goes through a rough patch of games or needs a rest, they can throw Bernier in without any worries and vice versa.

Having two capable starting goaltenders is a great move by the Leafs and a great strategy to capitalize on the latest NHL trend. If the season starts and both goaltenders are playing well it will also give the Leafs the edge over their competition by not having to ride just one goaltender all the time. If Randy Carlyle plays his cards right and allows both goaltenders time to prove themselves and keeps the media circus away from the goaltenders, the Leafs could ride their goaltending tandem back to the playoffs once again.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Top 10 NHL Goalies From the 2013 Season

It's the constant debate; Who is the best goaltender in the NHL? The answer changes every season and if you lined up 100 people you're likely to get 100 different lists. The lockout-shortened season gave fans the opportunity to watch some fantastic hockey right through to the final buzzer. There were some tremendous goaltending performances and a lot of goaltenders really started to turn heads. Here's my list of the top 10 goaltenders from the lockout-shortened NHL season.

10. Braden Hotlby
Braden Holtby edged out Carey Price for the 10th spot in the countdown based on his numbers and Alex Ovechkin's resurgence. Holtby won 23 of his 35 starts posting a .920 Save Percentage and 2.58 Goals Against Average. Braden Holtby is a goaltender on the rise; he's earned the rights to the Capitals crease and shows no signs of giving it up. If he continues improving he'll climb up the NHL netminder ranks in no time.
playoff success. Holtby had a great season between the pipes for the Capitals and helped keep the team afloat before

9. Jimmy Howard
Jimmy Howard had a tremendous season between the pipes for the Detroit Red Wings and he had to do so without Nicklas Lidstrom on defence. Howard passed the test and made the Red Wings blue line look better than it was. Howard has really elevated himself to the front line of NHL goaltenders. He should battle for a spot to represent team USA at the 2014 Olympics.

8. Corey Crawford
It's tough to put a goaltender who backstopped his team to a Stanley Cup Championship so low on this list, but no one is sure which Corey Crawford is the real one as of yet. He split time this season with Ray Emery and if the veteran Emery hadn't gotten injured there's no guarantee Crawford would have started the playoffs. Once in the playoffs Crawford elevated his game and out-duelled some of the best goalies in the game today; the spotlight is now on Crawford, will he deliver again next season?

7. Craig Anderson
If not for an ankle injury which derailed his season, Anderson would have likely skated away with the Vezina after posting a 1.69 Goals Against Average and .941 Save Percentage after 24 games. Anderson was lights out during the regular season and helped backstop the Senators to the playoffs. At times last season Anderson looked Hasek-esque.

6. Sergei Bobrovsky
After last season how badly are the Philadelphia Flyers kicking themselves for getting rid of Bobrovsky? Bobrovsky had a career year, which earned him the Vezina and made him a finalist for the Hart trophy. But the biggest question is whether he'll be able to perform at that elite level again. Despite his career year, Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets fell just short of the playoff; Is Bobrovsky bound to be another great goalie on a non-playoff team?

5. Tuukka Rask
Don't look now Leafs' fans, it appears Tuukka Rask has finally solidified himself as an NHL starter, Tim Thomas return to Boston. Rask is a goalie who's knocking on the door of the NHL elite and if he can have another solid season or lead the Bruins to a Stanley Cup he may just step right through that door.
and a pretty good one at that. After another solid season between the Bruins pipes, leading the team to the Stanley Cup Finals, Rask appears to have wiped away any thoughts of a

4. Pekka Rinne
Pekka Rinne has established himself as an elite goaltender in the NHL. He had a tough 2012-2013 season but his team didn't help him with their goal scoring or lack there of. With the acquisition of Seth Jones, the Predators blue line should be fine for years to come which should help get Rinne back to the top 3.

3. Antti Niemi
Everyone remembers Niemi as the goalie who stumbled his way through the playoffs with the Chicago Blackhawks and won a Stanley Cup before promptly heading to San Jose. But since leaving Chicago, Niemi has quietly become one of the top goalies in the NHL. He put up solid numbers through the regular season playing 43 games and improved his game in the playoffs posting a 1.87 GAA. Has Niemi finally arrived or is he finally earning the respect he deserves?

2. Jonathan Quick
Since bursting onto the NHL scene and winning the Stanley Cup last season, Quick has quickly become one of the best puckstoppers in the NHL. Quick and Lundqvist are the two best goaltenders in the NHL and differentiating between who's better is like asking a parent which of their children are cuter. Quick has a bright future between the pipes and will look to lead team USA in 2014.

1. Henrik Lundqvist
As evenly matched as Quick and Henrik Lundqvist are, the King was slightly better through the
lockout-shortened season and get's the nod as the best goalie from last season. When king Henrik is on he is truly unbeatable. Lundqvist is the standard for all other NHL goalies, if you're going to be the best you have to beat the best. Maybe Lundqvist and Quick can battle it out in the Olympics?

Here's my list, who's in your top 10? Let me know who I missed!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

10 Can't Miss NHL Games in 2013-2014

It may only be July but now that the 2013-2014 NHL schedule has been released the countdown to October 1st for hockey fans is on. It's time to start planning the road-trips, making excuses to miss family gatherings and making a list of available dates when you're not watching hockey to give to family and friends. Before marking your NHL life in stone, here are 10 games you wont want to miss this upcoming NHL season.

After the lockout-shortened 2013 season the 2013-2014 NHL season will return to normal and there will even be a few bonuses for hockey fans. The 2013-2014 NHL season will feature 34 more games for each team than last season and as a special bonus fans will once again get to see NHL action in October! With a full 82 game season and an Olympic break thrown into the mix the 2013-2014 NHL season is sure to be a good one; Here's 10 more games that you'll want to be in front of a television for.

October 8th 2013- New Jersey Devils vs. Vancouver Canucks

Finally the goaltending saga between Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider is over- at least in Vancouver. After much debate that the Canucks had lost faith in Luongo and were ready to move forward with Schneider, the Canucks dealt Schneider on draft day to the New Jersey Devils. Schneider will return to Vancouver to see his former teammates in the first week of the season; the only question is whether he'll be between the pipes or not. But a Schneider/Luongo match-up would be a must watch game and could be a possible Olympic match-up.

October 28th 2013- Dallas Stars vs. Buffalo Sabres

For Buffalo Sabres fans, seeing former head coach Lindy Ruff behind the bench of another team is going to be tough. On October 28th Ruff will be behind the bench of the Dallas Stars as he makes his return to the First Niagara Centre as the Stars and Sabres square off. It'll be an emotional night for both parties, as Ruff returns to the place where he called home for 16 years and plays the role of the villain.

November 9th 2013- Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Boston Bruins

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game SevenHey leafs, remember that time you almost eliminated the Boston Bruins in the first round but then collapsed? Well on November 9th the Leafs will be heading back to the scene of their historic collapse to face off against the big bad Bruins. There's a growing divisional rivalry between the Bruins and Leafs, but a rivalry of which the Bruins always seem to win. The Leafs came to within 10 minutes of slaying the Bruins, but a blown 3 goal lead with half a period left is something that will hollow in the minds of Leaf players forever. 180 days after the collapse the Leafs will once again have to face the Bruins, that may be a good game to start Jonathan Bernier.

November 30th 2013- Vancouver Canucks vs. New York Rangers

The Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers took part in a coach swap this offseason as John Tortorella moved from New York to Vancouver and Alain Vigneault moved from Vancouver to New York. While neither coach will step onto the ice or score any goals the media circus that will be around both- specifically Tortorella will be something to see. Will we see another classic John Tortorella press conference? 

December 1st 2013- Detroit Red Wings vs. Ottawa Senators

In a move that surprised many, long-time Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson signed a deal with the Detroit Red Wings. Alfredsson was the longest serving captain in the NHL before he jumped ship because he felt the Wings gave him the best shot at a Stanley Cup. Will the Senators faithful boo their former beloved captain or will some "Alfie" chants breakout?

January 1st 2014- Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings

082212wings_leags1It may be a year late but on January 1st the Leafs will square off against the Wings in the annual Winter Classic game at Michigan Stadium. Even with the NHL capitalizing on 6 "out-door" games next season, the Leafs and Red Wings Winter Classic will be a game you wont want to miss as the centre of the hockey universe takes on hockeytown. Plus there's finally a Canadian team playing in the Winter Classic- it's sure to be a classic.

January 11th 2014- Chicago Blackhawks vs. Boston Bruins

After one of the most exciting and nail bitting Stanley Cup Finals the NHL is going to make fans wait until January 11th for the first re-match between the Bruins and Blackhawks.

January 22nd 2014- Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings

With the Red Wings being moved into the Eastern Conference the Blackhawks will only see their former rivals twice next season. On January 22nd the former Western Conference rivals will square off for the first time and renew the rivalry between the two original six squads.

January 24th 2014- Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings

It's not the Winter Classic and it may just be a lame attempt for the NHL to milk money and ruin something classic but the Ducks and Kings will kick off the NHL's new "Stadium Series" by playing an outdoor hockey game in LA. An out-door hockey in LA, yeah I'm looking forward to seeing that as well.

March 20th 2014- Minnesota Wild vs. New Jersey Devils

You can't but help feel sorry for the New Jersey Devils. They lost Ilya Kovalchuk after he bolted to the KHL this offseason and lost Zach Parise last offseason. Parise will finally have a chance to visit his former team in New Jersey for the first time since game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012.

Although hockey fans will once again be able to enjoy an 82 game season, the 2013-2014 season will be a big change for a lot of teams and fans. There will be many "Home-comings" after one of the biggest off-seasons for players looking to chang scenery. Fans will also be treated to 6 out-door NHL games; Will the novelty quickly wear off? When the puck drops on October 1st another memorable NHL season will get underway as the Chicago Blackhawks look to defend their Stanley Cup title.