After a rainy, then hot, and now suddenly chilly summer, winter is looming far too soon here in the soon-to-be-frozen north. SAD is on the advance, as is the threat of swine flu. So the best news available by far is that NHL training camps are opening across the land. In the land of hush puppies, real BBQ, and double-figure ethnic restaurants, the Carolina Hurricanes camp begins this weekend. The top questions as I see them this month are:
1. Who will be the third pairing D unit? Andrew Alberts has to be one half, but will Brett Carson, Jay Harrison, or even Bryan Rodney make a case for sitting Nic Wallin? Can we hope so?
2. Will JR finally make a move re Anton Babchuk? Supposedly there are "irons in the fire," and "a move is imminent" to send him to another team. This can only mean, of course, that Babs will sign with the Canes and be back on the ice in a few days.
3. When will the annual injury curse strike, and how hard? Already there've been some anxious moments -- Cam Ward's tweaked back at the Canadian Olympic camp, and now Joni Pitkanen's knee surgery that will keep him off the ice for a few weeks. Recent news is that Jussi Jokinen was wearing a yellow non-contact jersey at camp today. The over-under on man-games missed lately has been somehwere around, oh, a thousand. Start the count now.
4. How many "Scott Walker/Aaron Ward sucker punch" comments will the national hockey media make during the first half of the season?
5. Will the answer to #4 be the sum total of actual coverage the Canes receive in the national hockey media?
6. When, oh when, will someone offer me free tix and flights to any Canes home games this year?