While the summer flying by way too fast is an alarming, and slightly sad reality, truth is there is but one reason to be excited for summer moving as swiftly as it is.
Yes, though it may seem like the Stanley Cup was just awarded, truth be told, we are not that far from the start of training camps, preseason, and before you know it, puck drop on opening night of the 2009-2010 NHL season.
And in a season that will house many great moments including another Winter Classic, as well as an Olympic break, there are highlights a plenty for every teams fans to get excited about, even in the dead of summer.
And while every game is worthy of being excited for, here are ten Toronto Maple Leafs games that I am really looking forward already this upcoming season.
Thursday October 1, 2009—Home Opener Versus Montreal
Opening night is always exciting. Throw in a historic rivalry, a Belarussian blood feud, and a former top defender who has jumped shipped, and this game just became that much more special.
After going months without hockey, two of the sports biggest fan bases will get their fill and then some when the Habs visit the Leafs on opening night of the 2009-2010 NHL season.
While both these teams need no reason to get up for a game against two of the oldest rivals in all of sports, Grabovski vs Kostitsyn, as well as the defection of Mike Komisarek serve as tasty sidebars for this contest.
Simply put, Alex Ovechkin is one of, if not the, best hockey players on the planet. Add to that a smooth skating defenseman like Mike Green, and emerging goalie in Simeon Varlamov, and it's always exciting to see the Washington Capitals in action.
Things got a tad nasty last year when then rookie Luke Schenn was assigned to cover Ovechkin. The Hart Trophy winner was up to the task, and even delivered a hit that put Schenn on the shelf with a knee injury.
A year older, and a year wiser, it'll be interesting to see if, and how, Luke rises to the challenge this year.
Tuesday October 6, 2009—Ottawa At Toronto
The Battle of Ontario resumes very early into the season, and though it may not have all of the key parts that made it one of the fiercest in the NHL, it's still a great game when the two do battle.
Since the lockout, the Battle has been a bit of a study in contrast. After losing most every game to the Senators in the first two seasons, the tide has turned, and Toronto has began to take over the season series.
With plenty of new faces on both sides, it will be interesting to see a new chapter in the rivalry written.
Saturday October 10, 2009—Pittsburgh at Toronto
Leafs fans pining for a chance to get a look at Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the rest of the 2009 Stanley Cup Champions won't have to wait long.
The second Saturday of the schedule sees Crosby's Penguins roll into the Air Canada Centre for what will obviously be an good, early measuring stick.
Despite their large difference in the points standings, the Leafs and Penguins had a good season series last year, with Toronto winning the majority of them. Things also got a little nasty when Luke Schenn leveled Evgeni Malkin into the boards, and then proceeded to pummel Tyler Kennedy, who had jumped off the bench to the aid of his teammate.
Monday October 29, 2009—Toronto At Anaheim
Brian Burke is a cocky, arrogant man. There is no denying that. To his credit, when you have the resume he holds, you are allowed to be just a little full of yourself.
Though he moved on peacefully, and though the Ducks had Bob Murray step in seamlessly for what was a good post season run, there is no doubt that Brian Burke and his ego will be pining to see his new team lay the smackdown on his former club.
Burke will also be looking to change the ways of his teams when traveling to the Pacific Coast. California has not been kind to Toronto in recent years.
Saturday November 7, 2009—Detroit at Toronto
Not only is this a classic Original Six era matchup, and not only is it a rivalry of teams in which geographical distance is pretty small, but it's also the NHL's annual Hockey Hall Of Fame Game, meaning the class of 2009, one of the best ever that features the likes of Yzerman, Robitaille, Hull, and Leetch, will be on hand and honoured before the game.
On the ice, the likes of Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Lidstrom will try and teach the young Leafs a lesson in what it takes to be a top team in this league.
For the Leafs, they will look to duplicate last year's contest when, in one of the highlights of the year, the Leafs upset Detroit 3-2.
Monday November 23, 2009—New York Islanders at Toronto
After all the hoopla surrounding Brian Burke's public bromance with John Tavares, and given the fact this is like a "homecoming game" for the kid, it'll be interesting to see his first possible game in the NHL in Toronto this November.
Tavares, the first overall pick in this past June's NHL draft, had a decorated career in the OHL with Oshawa and London. Touted as the next one at the tender age of 14, Tavares will finally have the world stage to prove what he can do, and their may be no brighter and more scrutinized stage in the NHL than in Toronto.
Monday December 7, 2009—Atlanta at Toronto
While it's hardly screams classic rivalry, the Leafs and Thrashers have had some chippy affairs in the past few seasons.
Add to that the fact they made a trade earlier this summer, and the intrigue only goes up from there.
Pavel Kubina, at times unfairly maligned by Leafs Nation, returns to Toronto for the first time since being dealt to Atlanta in exchange for Garnet Exelby and Colin Stuart. Exelby, meanwhile, will likely be looking to make a statement against his former team.
Tuesday January 26, 2010—Los Angeles at Toronto
Brother vs brother? It's certainly a possibility. As the Kings come to Toronto in early 2010, there is chance we may very well see Luke Schenn hounding down his younger brother Brayden, who was drafted to the NHL by the L.A. Kings this past June.
Aside from that interesting story, there is Leafs fans getting the chance to see all the Kings young talent on display, particularly local boy Drew Doughty.
Friday February 12, 2010--Toronto at St. Louis
At first this may not seen like a big game, but a look a little deeper says otherwise.
The chance for Leafs fans to see Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo again is a welcome thing. The two former first rounders have found a niche in St. Louis, a young up and coming team coming off a first round appearance in last year's playoffs.
And, if that isn't enough, this is also the last game before the Olympic break.