Being that today is September 2, 2008, we're now approximately one month away from the start of the 2008-09 season. Personally, I am excited for this season since there have been a myriad of player moves. From the rebuilding Blackhawks to the questionable moves by the Lightning to the added guns hired by the Red Wings, this season is looking like a good one. But we're not there yet! There are still a number of things going on in the hockey world before the new season gets underway, so let's take a look at some of these stories.
- The Washington Capitals announced that they will raise #11 to the rafters this season in honour of long-time NHL great Mike Gartner. Gartner was a fixture in Washington for a decade after having been drafted by the Capitals fourth overall in 1979. Gartner played in 758 games for the Capitals, recording 397 goals and 392 assists in ten seasons for the red-white-and-blue. Of course, Gartner was involved in one of the bigger trades of the 1989-90 season when he and Larry Murphy were traded to the Minnesota North Stars for Dino Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse. The retirement ceremony will take place on December 28, 2008 before a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs - another team that Gartner had success with before retiring. Congratulations, Mr. Gartner!
- Another retirement ceremony has been announced, and this one will be huge. The date hasn't been finalized yet, but it appears that the Montreal Canadiens will retire Patrick Roy's #33 jersey during a ceremony in November. The Canadiens refuse to speak about the story, and Patrick Roy has not confirmed anything besides saying that it would be "a great honour". Roy lead Les Habitants to two Stanley Cups, in 1986 and 1993, while winning numerous awards with the team. The official announcement of all the ceremonies surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Montreal franchise will happen on September 24, 2008, but it's a good bet that the Canadiens will retire #33 in honour of one of the greatest goaltenders in franchise and league history.
- Thanks to the calendar, I'll be seeing less of Bryan McCabe this season. The Toronto Maple Leafs will trade McCabe and a draft pick to the Florida Panthers in exchange for defenceman Mike Van Ryn, and it will be made official today. The Panthers weren't willing to trade for McCabe due to the $2 million bonus he was scheduled to get on September 1, so the teams agreed to wait until after the bonus had been paid. Honestly, this guy is one of the most overrated defencemen in the game, and I pointed this out last December in an article. I'm glad I don't have to watch him on Hockey Night In Canada any longer. And this is just a secondary thought: is Florida the franchise where former Maple Leafs go to die? They dealt Kilger and Belak there last season at the deadline, and now McCabe is headed that way.
- The Vancouver Canucks have released the ten finalists in the contest to design Curtis Sanford's new mask. There are some pretty solid designs in there. Personally, my favorite is this mask, but your opinion may differ. They also published the Top 40 masks according to the Canucks' staff. Let me know which one ranks highly for you in the comment section. Well done, Darcy, and good luck in this contest!
- The Canucks also published a photo history of all the masks worn by Canucks goaltenders over the years. Some of these masks are impressive, especially the older ones like Gary Bromley. Yes, that's a hideous jersey, but the mask certainly makes up for it.
- Following the goaltenders and masks theme, the Boston Bruins posted a gallery of the new mask design for Tim Thomas. I'm ok with the design. The bear on the right side of the mask when facing it is a little "art deco", but it's not bad at all. His kids' initials are on there, and the archer, representing his love of bow-hunting, also makes another appearance. Solid design, and one that should look good for the Bruins.
- The latest news about free agent Mats Sundin? No one cares. Again. Just make a decision quick. You know, like ripping a band-aid off the hairiest part of your arm or leg. Do it fast, and be done with it.
- I'm glad Joe Sakic decided to return to the NHL for another season. Sakic is one of the classiest guys in the league, and deserves another shot at a season if he decides it. Although, it sounded like his son, Mitchell, was the force behind the decision. "It wasn't unanimous in the house." said Sakic during his announcement. "No, Deb and the kids were supportive whichever way it went. Except for Mitchell. He demanded I play. He's the one who just demanded. I had the final vote." Welcome back, Joe!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!