2002-03 NHL SEASON TIMELINE

 

 Another NHL Season has arrived at long last!

I was checking out some of the preseason action (or lack thereof) over the past few weeks. I realized two things. Anyone can win and anything can happen. So rather than sit here spewing out trades, statistics and meaningless drivel that will probably mean nothing come next April (even tomorrow as I quickly found out), I thought I would take a much more informal approach.

Here then is my official Puckin' Around season timeline preview.

 

OCTOBER

- After resolving a contract squabble that was way more interesting than any of the summer's salary arbitration cases, Ron Maclean returns as host of Hockey Night In Canada. Things get a little heated between Ron and Don on Coach's Corner. That shouldn't be surprising. What is surprising is Don actually makes sense for the first time in his career as he chastises Ron for holding out for a new contract.

- EA SPORTS releases NHL 2003, much to the delight of video game fans everywhere (myself included - stay tuned for a review by yours truly over in Video Game Corner)

- A few select players receive their Stanley Cup rings.

- Alexandre Daigle has people wondering what he's doing in Pittsburgh and where he's been.

- Jaromir Jagr scratches his head and wonders why he still holds the distinction of "world's greatest player".

- Theo Fleury, suspended from playing hockey until further notice, somehow convinces the organ player in Chicago to make "The Chicken Dance" a regular feature at Blackhawks games.

- Patrick Roy has opening night fit when he has to face Mike Modano, Bill Guerin and Jere Lehtinen on the same offensive line. Seems he still hasn't forgotten about Game Seven of last year's Western Conference Final vs. Detroit.

- Rick Nash gets the fans in Columbus realistically excited about next April and is the early Calder trophy candidate favorite.

- A few coaches are on the hotseat (no names mentioned).

 

NOVEMBER

- One of the four most recent expansion teams leads the NHL Standings for an entire twenty-four hours (well make it forty-eight, I'm fair).

- At least one brawl breaks out for no apparent reason whatsoever.

- A veteran player announces their retirement and becomes an announcer on one of the major sports networks.

- Tie Domi is fined by the league for doing/saying something stupid and Pat Quinn is also fined for standing up for him.

- At least one player gets traded or requests a trade.

- Some idiot again attempts to spread the ridiculous rumour that Wayne Gretzky is planning a comeback. To them I say this: "Give it up already".

- One of the players' wives gives birth to future NHL star. Remember the name and look for them in the NHL Entry Draft in 2021.

 

DECEMBER

- Going into the Christmas Break, pick either Detroit or Colorado in the West and pick any team in the East.

- The NHL All-Stars play pick up hockey on Christmas Day at a secluded pond undisclosed to the media. Exclusive broadcast on Sports Byline USA.

- Steve Yzerman, Gary Roberts and Michael Peca all return from injuries.

- A coach gets fired.

- World Junior Championships in Halifax. Go Canada Go!

- John Muckler banishes Radek Bonk of the Ottawa Senators to Siberia's minor league team for conditioning. If this doesn't work out look for the former first round draft pick to be traded to a contender in the West.

 

JANUARY

- The New York Rangers under new head coach Bryan Trottier actually hovering around .500 and nailing down the eighth and final playoff spot. Eric Lindros is the team's leading scorer. Will wonders never cease?

- Mike Keenan breaks stick over referee Kerry Fraser's head. Having used another full can of hair spray before the game, Fraser doesn't feel a thing, but gives Keenan a game misconduct for abuse of official.

- Phoenix' head coach is fired and Gretzky decides to call up Marty McSorley, head coach of the Springfield Falcons. Was there any doubt this man would coach someday?

- The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim lead the Western Conference standings, but not for long.

 

FEBRUARY

- All-Star Break - the only thing more interesting than the color of the uniforms will be Ron Maclean's annual interview with Gary Bettman.

- Fans in Florida get to see the Stanley Cup for the first time since Colorado hoisted it in 1996. Mike Keenan reportedly is hiding the real Cup in the locker room. He somehow managed to replace it with a replica similar to what is on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

- No Olympic Break, no figure skating scandal, no chance for the USA to avenge their loss to Canada in the Gold Medal Game. Sorry guys, you'll have to wait until August for the World Cup of Hockey (and even then, good luck, you'll need it!!).

 

MARCH

- Whatever you do, don't blink, because you might miss something!

- Trading deadline sees more stupidity than deals take place. It's anybody's game now!

- The final countdown to the postseason is on - in the often weak Southeast Division, a three way tie for first between Tampa Bay, Carolina and Washington.

- Anaheim still trying to make a Sharks-Ducks series a reality.

 

APRIL

- Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames finally qualify for the playoffs.

- The Battle of Alberta reincarnated as Edmonton qualifies for the postseason, by the skin of their teeth.

- The Carolina Hurricanes fail to make the playoffs after going all the way to the finals last year.

- Washington self destructs and ends up dead last in the Southeast Division, Tampa Bay surprises everybody and wins the division title, giving them third seed in the Eastern Conference. Haven't we seen this movie before?

- Playoffs start with sixteen teams. In a short couple of weeks there will only be eight left. In the meantime do the Nashville Predators have a hope or a prayer against Detroit?

- In the most intriguing series of the year - Anaheim qualifies and will play the San Jose Sharks for California bragging rights. In other news Colorado will play Los Angeles, again!

- Islanders vs Rangers, this time it's personal. New York, New York, where's Frank Sinatra when you need him?

 

MAY

- Round Four of the Battle of Ontario - Ottawa vs Toronto - does it get any better than this?

- Edmonton wins Battle of Alberta in seven and has to face Dallas in round two. Oh yay!

- Detroit staves off elimination? Say it isn't so! Seems we underestimated "that there team from Nashville Tennessee". Predators' front office management breathe a sigh of relief. They don't have to refund any tickets (fan satisfaction or money back guarantee, meaning if the Predators failed to make the playoffs a lot of fans were getting refunds).

- Four out of six Canadian Teams still in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. Was that Rocket Richard's silhouette I saw next to Saku Koivu? It's true! It's true! The Forum Ghosts exist?!?? Wait a minute, that was just Dick Irvin Jr. trying to make his way into the press box. Somebody should tell him that the Forum is down the street!

- The Flyers showing their futility are again down for the count against the Habs. Fans in Philly figure it will be more exciting to watch the New Jersey Devils tee off in Atlantic City. Hey is that Donald Trump over there in the bunker?

 

JUNE

- Red Wings win?! Not so fast Detroit! Anybody happen to catch who won the Eastern Conference Title? Question is, unless you're in Windsor or Michigan, does anybody else really care?

- Scotty Bowman and Harry Neale are spotted playing golf in Windsor.

- NHL Awards, hosted by Ron Maclean and featuring musical guests Rita MacNeil and Nelly Furtado (seems nobody else wanted the gig!).

- NHL Draft in Nashville - Garth Brooks pencilled in to make an appearance between recording sessions.

- No sleep till there's hockey on TV again.

 

Well folks, the season has arrived, enjoy!!

As always I can be reached at puckin45@puckinaround.net

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