This season will be a battle.
Preseason doesn't matter. The games don't count. It doesn't even mean anything.
While this reporter has never believed any of that, it is still the standard view of preseasons in any sport.
While it is true that preseason standings aren't good predictors of where teams will end up in the regular season and beyond, the building blocks for every championship season begin with the chemistry that is tinkered with in preseason.
This year, if the preseason is a sign of anything to come, it's that this season in the NHL will be full of passionate competition, more so than any season before.
Suspensions, for one are being handed out left and right in this preseason more so than any other. Part of this has to do with a rule change to the definition and enforcement of boarding. Part of this has to do with passion and competition level on the ice.
With the rise of the salary cap in the NHL during the offseason, the NHL saw unprecedented player movement of big name players and big name contracts via trade and free agency.
This has left expectations high in nearly every hockey town. Surely nothing gets a hockey crowd going like fresh blood.
With a new team in Winnipeg, the Jets are injecting new energy into the NHL that only a new Canadian team can.
New players on new teams. New teams altogether. Everyone of them kicking at the starting gate, ready for the doors to open.
There are already fans getting arrested for making racist gestures while players are accusing other players of making homophobic slurs. This year's hockey season is already turning into great theater.
This will be the most competitive ice hockey regular season in the last 50 years, with everyone starting on day one ready to fight their way into the final eight of their conference by any means necessary.