The rodeos are over, the football edition is finished (though I had nothing to do with it, but I did do plenty of desk work to free up the others) and I'm finally free to concentrate on hockey.
I took a little trip to the rink today and it smelled like hockey. OK, it smelled like sweaty shoulder pads and gloves, but that is the key indication that hockey season is here.
After the morning skate, defenseman Sam Grist was adding onto his hockey stick to make it longer (he is 6-4). This includes fire and a saw. Quite the production.
Had a little chat with new goalie Ty Rimmer, forward Mackenzie Royer and Swedish sensation Malte Strömwall (I had to learn to make the mouse ears over the O today). From all indications, he is the real deal. We shall see when the puck drops.
While waiting in the hallway outside the dressing room for coach Jim Hiller, I took a good look at the franchise leaders on the wall. Going into my 10th year covering the Americans, I'm proud to say I watched a good number of those guys during their careers. Tyler Schmidt is all over the defenseman categories for regular season and playoffs. Same for goalies Carey Price, Chet Pickard and Drew Owsley.
Eric Degerman covered the Americans their first 10 years in Kennewick. He watched guys like Daymond Langkow, Stu Barnes, Olie Kolzig, Scotty Gomez and Brian Boucher. For all the talent that came through the first 10 years, they were never able to win a banner.
I have watched the Americans win three U.S. Division titles, a Scotty Munro trophy and a Western Conference title during my time. There were no outright superstars, just a great bunch of guys with mad skills and a tenacious work ethic.
I expect more of the same this season.