Despite the dog days of August bringing me down, I often ind myself tapping into excitement and curiosity about the upcoming Avalanche season. Every day, something else pops into my head that makes me think, "I can't freaking wait!" Here are 10 of them, in no particular order and definitely not inclusive.
1. The new coaches: I'm anxious to see how Patrick Roy's drive for winning will change the culture of the team. I want to get a glimpse at his systems and how the players adjust to them. Adam Foote was always such a great leader on and off the ice. His influence on the defense will be paramount to any hopes of making the playoffs. Can he turn that motley crew around? Francois Allaire is a legend in goaltending. I'm dying to see him and JS Giguere on the ice together. I expect to see smiles and a comfort level that never happened with Kirk McLean. The most intriguing part of that will be the way Allaire interacts with Semyon Varlamov. It's such a huge unknown at this point how the two will work together and what changes we'll see in Varly's style of play.
2. Patrick Roy during practices: Will he step over the lines? Oh please let the answer be yes.
3. Gabe Landeskog as captain: I don't think last season was indicative of the type of captain Landy will be. I'm anxious to see how things shake out now that he's had some time adjusting to the new role and grown from experiences during the season and since it ended.
4. Ryan O'Reilly's new position: There are a ton of things to be excited about with Radar. His transition to wing will be such an interesting story line. Will he be successful in the same way Forsberg was when he moved over? I suspect the precedent set by Foppa and Sakic is what made Roy think, "Hmmmm, this might work." Although very different players than 21 and 19, 90 and 9 play similar roles: a two-way forward and goal-scoring center.
5. New kids on the block: The prospect list that has me chomping at the bit is long. Topping it is Joey Hishon. Getting a chance to watch those LEM games last year was awesome as it reminded me just what slick hands that kid has. Then there are the new draftees (and by new, I mean both 2012 and 2011 because of the lockout). I love watching the kids live and in person for the first time. How do they handle the nerves of being there? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What's this year's "lunch money" moment? The biggest draw is the Battle of the Blueline. Yes, the d-corps is full already. But what youngin is going to pull an O'Reilly and force the Avs to keep him? Why is Roy so high on Chris Bigras? Why is Pracey so damn giddy about Will Butcher? How much has Duncan Siemens developed since his first camp? How do the LEM kids look, anyway? Then there are the old kids new to the block like Cory Sarich and Andre Benoit. How will they fit in with the current roster? What is Roy's plan with them? And then there's Alex Tanguay. I can't wait for the cheers he'll get the first time he steps on the ice at training camp. What kind of chemistry will he have with an Avs roster that is totally different from what he knew? With whom will he have the most chemistry? Will he make Roy rethink those lines? So many questions...
6. Speaking of Hish: Seeing him on Avalanche ice with that logo on his chest will be monumental. Such a simple thing, but it will bring such a happy feeling.
7. Matt Duchene's development: He said he needed to get faster. That was a goal for the off season. If he did get faster, holy hell, that's going to be mind blowing. Last season, he broke through to a whole new level of play. He thinks he has to be better. What will that even look like? I think we might get a glimpse of a potential future Hall of Famer this season, and camp will be the start of it. If he still has the same chemistry with PA Parenteau that he had last season and O'Reilly fits into that scenario at the top of his potential, we could see something really special.
8. Hello Nathan MacKinnon: I'm dying to see if he's as fast as everyone says. I want to see why the Avs took him first overall. I need to see in person the electricity he brings to the ice. I remember Duchene's first season and how every time he hit the ice, the atmosphere in the arena (even in away games) tingled. I am anxious to experience that same phenomenon with MacKinnon. I also want to see his speed matched up with Duchene's on the same line at some point, even if it's just in practice or camp. I expect nothing less than a rip in the time-space continuum.
9. Matt Huwick doing skating drills: Forget about whether he's good or bad. There is one thing that is undeniable: Hunwick is a captivating skater. Watching him on the ice is mesmerizing. It's a beautiful sight to behold, and I'm so looking forward to seeing it again.
10. Seeing, hearing, smelling: The sights and sounds of live hockey. The smell of the ice. The skill of professional hockey players. I've missed it all so much. It's an addiction. I fully admit that. But rather than something that sends me spiraling downward, it sends me to a zen place. It calms my soul in a way that nothing else can. This is what makes me most excited about the start of the season.
September 12, 2013: when?