"In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter, we are alive." Stephen Leacock
Summer has never seemed so long.
We're just a few weeks away from dropping the puck—don't anyone dare tell me the preseason counts—and I, for one, am teeming with anticipation.
And why wouldn't I be? Centennial Year. Following up a first-place finish in the East. Roy's jersey retirement. Best Habs team in over a decade—if Koivu says it, that's good enough for me.
You need to get your pulse checked if you aren't pumped for Oct 10.
The Habs exceeded everyone's expectations last year by edging Pittsburgh for the conference lead. This year, they will be looking to match that success—and there is no reason to think they won't be in the running.
The main thing now is that Montreal isn't going to sneak up on anyone this season. That giant thing that looks like a dart-board on the back of the jersey? That's a target—and you can be sure other teams are already taking aim. A big factor this year will be how Coach Carbonneau and the team can respond to being the favorites.
Accompanying the raised expectations are a slew of questions. Will Tanguay and Lang fit into the system? Can Price handle the load of a full season? Will Higgins break the 30-goal plateau? Will Komisarek kill the next reporter to ask him if Laraque's arrival relieves the pressure on him to drop the gloves? What is the media gonna yell at Koivu for this year?
While I don't know how these or any other situations will play out—Mats Sundin stole my Magic 8 Ball to decide whether to retire or play— I can say I'm eager to see them answered.
But feel that change in the air? It's a crisp optimism that every hockey fan shares that comes with the beginning of autumn.
We are fans of the most storied team in the greatest sport there is. We are graced with some of the most grateful, humble players in the league. Don't take that for granted.
Enjoy the season everyone. Remember the legends of Richard, Beliveau, and Dryden. Take in the future legends playing today, 'cause some day you'll be telling your kids that you were there when the Habs came back from five down to beat the Rangers, when Koivu returned from cancer to a standing ovation that wouldn't be silenced, and when Bob Gainey built a champion.
So Habs fans, get ready for Komisarek's thundering hits and Kovalev's sick stick-handling. Get ready for Koivu's overflowing heart and the flying Kostitsyns. Get ready for Price is Right. Get ready for 21,273 loud. Get ready—for the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge.