Believe it or not, it actually took me a second to not type NHL LOCKOUT: Day 114. It’s so amazing to actually start writing about the season. The Boston Bruins team from last year (sans Thomas) have started to gather back in Boston for a few informal skates while the ratification of the CBA is underway. The CBA is expected to pass muster with the governors and we should see our first NHL hockey on January 19th. Some of our Boston Bruins were celebrating the first day of the post-lockout era by having an informal skate at Boston University.
The compressed season is going to make battling for position in the Northeast Conference chaotic(on a good day.) Our Bruins are expecting it to be one interesting ride to the playoffs. Newly minted member of my personal Bruins pantheon, Andrew Ference (negotiator and pugilist extraordinaire) was one of those skaters on the ice, and he took a moment to express his expectations for the forty-eight game season with ESPNBoston. “It’ll be crazy, it will be tiring, for sure.” offered Ference. “Despite the frustrations and the negativity, there is that, I think everyone believes there is that opportunity to still have a pretty memorable year, a pretty special year. I fully believe that.” He even took a minute to send a thank you out to the fans.
He was not the only member of my band of favorites there today. Brad Marchand was out there getting his skates under him. Unlike a dozen of his ‘Bruins brothers’, Marchand chose to spend the downtime split between Boston and his hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia. “It’s been a long three months and we can’t wait to be back on the ice and playing in front of our fans again,” Marchand said. “I’m feeling pretty good. The biggest thing is we’ve been able to rest a lot during this time. As good as working out is for you during the season, a lot of rest is great, too. I have been training hard and trying to stay in shape and I can’t wait to play.”
Marchand was in agreement with Ference on the chaotic nature of the abbreviated season. (The predicted opening game would be in Montreal on the 19th, and the home opener would be against Toronto on the 21st.) “The first few games are going to be a little sloppy, but everyone’s going to be pushing as hard as they can every game. It’s going to mean so much more now with a short schedule, and if you go on a bad run to start the year then you could easily push yourself out of a playoff position, so everyone has to bear down(no pun intended) and make sure every game counts.”
My inner six year old is still screaming “We got hockey!, we got hockey!, we got hockey!” It’s going to be one of the more interesting playoff runs in recent history, especially since it will start at day one.