Tonight is officially the first game of the old beer league, and I'm thinking that I might be suffering from some serious aches and pains tomorrow. While I doubt my local veterinarian will help me with my symptoms, I'll probably have to do some serious stretching before the game. I may have to find a local yoga class just to limber up for the game. In any case, I have all my gear together, I've taped up my sticks again, and I'm looking forward to hitting the ice tonight. If there's one thing I miss about hockey after a long summer, it's the smell of the arena as you walk in the door. And it's unmistakably hockey. While I'm sweating my butt off tonight, here are a few headlines.
- The ECHL's Stockton Thunder have introduced a new alternate jersey this season, and I have to say that I like it. The bright yellow colour is bold, and I like the lightning bolt just below the shoulder yolk. It's simple, but inventive. This jersey gets a thumbs-up from me.
- Washington goaltender Semyon Varlamov is sporting a new paint job this season as well. Varlamov has American imagery on the right side, and Russian imagery on the left side. As you may recall, he wore Capitals imagery on one side, and Hershey Bears imagery on the other last season, so the theme continues from last season. I like his new design, but I want more from that Russian side. All in all, a decent new design.
- Islanders goaltender Dwayne Roloson is sporting some new paint. Here is the left side, the right side, and the back plate to his mask. I like the buoy on the back plate. Very cool idea. I was hoping for the Fisherman to show up on a mask, but looks like he won't be making an appearance this season.
- Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom has brought some colour to the rink. The right side of his mask has the Wild secondary logo on it, and the left side has an evergreen tree. The back plate is even plainer with his name, number, and country's flag on it. The Wild need someone to break out of the monotony and get creative. I guess Martin Havlat is in charge of that department.
- Jonas Gustavsson, the prized free agent goalie signing that Brian Burke made, might be worth every penny. The "Monster" held his own against the Red Wings as the Maple Leafs defeated Detroit by a 2-1 score. What makes this interesting is that Gustavsson has not yet surrendered a goal on North American soil. Vesa Toskala may not start the season opener if Gustavsson continues to impress.
- The AHL Chicago Wolves look to be a powerhouse again this season as the Atlanta Thrashers assigned Jason Krog, Tim Stapleton, and goalie Drew McIntyre to the AHL club after trimming their roster by nine players. Krog is a former AHL MVP; Stapleton has lots of experience and is a gritty player; McIntyre was stellar in leading the Milwaukee Admirals to the second best record in the AHL last season. Keep an eye on the Wolves this season. They may just blow the doors off a few teams with all their talent.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!