The time of year has come that makes every NHL fan giddy inside like a little child waiting for Santa Claus; the beginning of a new season. A time where team hats and jerseys will be worn everyday at work, home and arena's around North America. Just like the ones before, this NHL season brings teams with new coaches, new players and new expectations.
This year for many teams will be all about the new coach.
There will be nine teams heading into the 2008-2009 campaign with different coaches from the year before; including four who have never coached in the "big show" before.
Toronto, Colorado, Los Angeles, Ottawa and Tampa Bay will have NHL new experienced coaches while Atlanta, Florida, San Jose and the New York Islanders will have rookie ones. Right off the hop, we know that at least six of these teams will not be seen the post season.
Ron Wilson will have a tough time keeping the Maple Leafs out of the leagues basement while the same goes for Scott Gordon's and his Isles. Toronto will be awful, especially with Sundin's future up in the air and to make it worse, there is nothing Wilson can do. Team Canada specialist Craig Hartsburg now controls the Senators who are expected to do better than last seasons 94 points.
In the Southeast Division, John Anderson and Peter DeBoer will make their debuts behind the benches of non-playoff teams in 07-08. Anderson's Thrashers should be just as bad as DeBoer's Panthers while Barry Melrose makes a coaching return with the Bolts. Melrose comes into a good "win-win" situation although they should do better after spending over 250 million dollars in salaries during the offseason.
Los Angeles hired Terry Murray to run the operations of a rebuilding Kings team. The key word is "rebuilding"; they are young and expectations are low going into this season as they should be. Of the new coaches, only rookie coach Todd Mclellan and Tony Granato are behind legitamte playoff teams.
Going in the season, there are a few coaches in the hot seat. Lindy Ruff has been with the Sabres since 1997 and if he cannot make the playoffs this season, his reign may be over. The same goes for Barry Trotz of Nashville. With the Predators only going downhill from here, it may be time for a new voice in the locker-room after the coming failed season.
But enough about coaches, lets talk players.
There were a bundle of movements in recent months, none more important than Marian Hossa. He will absolutely strengthen the Red Wings roster and already make them Cup favourites. Let's take a second to see how scary Detroit's power play looks on paper. They got either Hossa, Zetterberg, Datsyuk on the point with the other two on each side plus Lidstrom and Holmstrom to cause havoc in front of the net.
Some other big names that were moved include Brian Campbell to the Blackhawks, Sean Avery to the Stars with the Rangers signing both Wade Redden and Markus Naslund. Tampa signed a whole new team by bringing in Ryan Malone, Andrej Meszaros, Gary Roberts, Vaclav Prospal, Mark Recchi, Radim Vrbata, Olaf Kolzig and signing their #1 overall draft pick, Steven Stamkos. People are expecting big numbers from Stamkos who was a big star in the junior days.
New teams with new faces are exciting but just not as exciting as those top players that keep even non-hockey fans watching.
Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby will once again be the fan favourites wherever they go and they should be. Who doesn't smile when Ovechkin scores? Crosby will look to redeem his scoring title but will only accomplish this if he stops crying about everything. Why does such a talented player waste his energy complaining to the refs every single time he gets touched? According to tsn.ca's projection analyst, Crosby will finish as the league's top scorer, six points better than Ovechkin.
Most teams have solid depth that can look to a team effort to lead the way; but there teams that go as far as their star player take them. Joe Thornton, Marc Savard, Ilya Kovalchuk, Eric Staal, Olli Jokinen and Ales Hemsky are prime examples of this. If these players get injured, their teams are in deep trouble.
Another season is coming and the questions are endless going into the new season but only one truly matters; who will win the Stanley Cup? Only time will tell.
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The 2008-2009 NHL preview was written by expert hockey writer Kevin Chaves. Pro Hockey Fans is a NHL fan site providing fans with original articles, previews, recaps and other NHL content covering hockey throughout the year. In addition to NHL article Pro Hockey Fans provides coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and features hockey wall decals & NHL merchandise.
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