Missing NHL Hockey: Beating the August Blues
If you're like me, you're getting a little antsy for the start of the 2008-09 NHL season.
If you're like me, you can't wait to get your first look at those brand new third jerseys on a fresh sheet of NHL ice this season.
You can't wait for the first icing call so that Alan Bass and I can start yelling back and forth at each other over the merits of no-touch icing.
And you can't wait to be the one to choose that major sleeper in your NHL fantasy draft this year.
You want to cheer on your favorites, jeer your adversaries, and just drink in the atmosphere that's become such a winter tradition in so many cities.
Then you look at the calendar, and it's not even August. The final month of the offseason is still two days away, and the only meaningful NHL news it seems we'll receive is Mats Sundin's decision on when and where (or if) he'll resume his playing career.
That's it—what a life.
Side note: It may surprise some of you to hear this, but I don't even care about Sundin's decision. I still stand by the fact that he's old enough to make his own decisions when and how he chooses.
The fact that he waited has been turned into a far bigger deal than it should have been—which just goes to show how much of a fishbowl this guy is exposed to in Toronto.
If he retires, good for him, and I hope he stays retired. If he comes back to Toronto I'll do cartwheels in the street. If he signs with Montreal? Big deal. Some of you also forget he started his career with the Quebec Nordiques, so is one extra year in Quebec a big deal? Not at all.
Now, some people have jobs that fill in the time between seasons, while some fill the void with other sports like baseball. But how do you fill the void with something hockey-related if you've become truly stir crazy come August? Pay attention, boys and girls, you may just learn something:
1. Jersey Speculation
Scroll up and down your team's roster. See all those new free agent acquisitions and rookies with a little dash in the number column?
Well until the NHL introduces punctuation as a valid jersey number (most likely in 2028 when the Montreal Canadiens have effectively retired three-quarters of valid NHL jersey numbers), this means that the players have no numbers.
So why don't you decide what number they get?
A fun little bonus game would be to speculate what (or how much) a newly acquired free agent would have to give an incumbent to acquire his regular jersey number: A Porsche? A house? Maybe Sean Avery's little black book...who knows?
2. Road Hockey
3. Hockey Card Collecting
Ok, this may sound kind of like stamp collecting, but it's not—it's stamp collecting with autographs, statistics, jersey swatches, and a hell of a lot more money involved.
If you're truly feeling the hockey blues this August, why not support the industry a little and try spending all that hard-earned cash on some cardboard—trust me, in my first three years of umpiring I didn't make a single cent; it all went to Fresher Sports Cards in London Ontario every other Sunday.
If it wasn't for the lockout, I'd still probably be going—and my girlfriend would be calling up Ken Armer to host an intervention.
5. Experimenting with Customized Jerseys
Admit it, we all want a customized jersey—if we aren't good enough to play for our favorite team, we may as well pay an extra $55 to $70 to have our name emblazoned upon the back of a jersey (or just have it done in Photoshop).
But while you're buying your own jersey, why not experiment? See which players wouldn't be allowed to buy a jersey from the website if they weren't members of the team (Hint: If you're a Toronto fan, you have to buy a jersey with Ponikarovsky already on it—you can't just make one. But either way you'd still have to answer questions about why you're wearing a Ponikarovsky jersey, so it's probably best to avoid that situation altogether).
You can also design jerseys with random names on them too like "Dickfor", which can bring about conversations such as this:
Person One: Hey man....what's on the back of your jersey?
Person Two: Dickfor.
One: Who's Dickfor?
Two: It's not a who...it's a what.
One: Oh. Then what's a Dickfor?
Two: Dude, you're married. Shouldn't you know?
Okay, so it's not a very long list—in fact, compared to Greg's list of future "must-reads" it's nothing.
On the bright side, only 32 more days until August is over.
Bryan Thiel is a Senior Writer and NHL Community Leader for Bleacher Report. If you'd like to get in contact with him, you can do so through his profile, and you can check out more of his previous work in his archives.
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