In a couple of days, after a long summer spent waiting, the puck will drop on the 2009-'10 NHL season.
The next day, Wisconsin women's hockey will kick off its defense of the NCAA national championship at the Kohl Center. A week later, the Badger men's hockey team hosts a scrimmage, and on Oct. 16 they will start their season against Colorado College.
While I'm obviously excited for hockey to start up again, more than anything else this season is all about revenge.
Maybe not for the Wisconsin women's hockey team—there's not a whole lot to avenge when a team crushes its competition on their way to a third national title. But for men's hockey fans and lovers of the 29 NHL teams who didn't hoist the Stanley Cup last June, recovering from the shortfalls of last season is the top goal.
As a Badger fan, I'm haunted by the slim margin that kept Wisconsin out of last year's NCAA tournament, and by the slip-ups late in the season, which cost it a WCHA title. I want this season to help me forget Denver forward Joe Colborne's last-second goal and Minnesota-Duluth goalie Alex Stalock's 33-save night that resulted in a 1-0 Badger loss, among other things.
As a San Jose Sharks fan, I hope the addition of former Badger Danny Heatley can help vanquish the ghosts of another great regular season team that couldn't bring that same strength to the playoffs.
One of my favorite bloggers, Mr. Plank from the Sharks fan blog ""Fear the Fin,"" wrote in an entry before last season's playoffs that the NHL postseason is ""by far the best time to be alive.""
And he was right: it was a fantastic time to be a fan. Just about every series was thrilling, and ended in a heart-stopping game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals that had me sneaking away from the table at my brother's wedding rehearsal dinner to catch the final minutes.
So while I won't argue with Mr. Plank that the start of college hockey and the NHL regular season is better than the playoffs, I will say it's a close second.
Now is the time for our teams to overcome all the disappointment of the past year and to make right everything that went wrong during the 2008-'09 season. Stalock's performance against the Badgers doesn't exist anymore, neither does Colborne's goal—there's a clean slate for Wisconsin this season.
Don't watch hockey? Find out what you're missing by e-mailing Nico at firstname.lastname@example.org.