January 8, 2013

Tom Caron: A funny thing happened on the way to NHL finals

Hockey's back. Actually, it's almost back.

Over the next week, NHL players will return to the rink from points near and far as teams get ready for a condensed season with an even more condensed training camp.

When the league and its players announced an agreement early Sunday morning, there were no details of what the season would look like.

We automatically assumed it would be a 48-game conference-only schedule like the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season.

The details were left to our imagination, if only for a couple of days. Today we're imagining what some of the highlights of what the 2013 season might look like.

Saturday, Jan 12: Players report to training camp.

Sunday, Jan 13: First pulled hamstrings reported as older players who didn't go to Europe during the lockout try to keep up with the young studs called up from the AHL.

Saturday, Jan 19: Season begins. Bruins face the Canadiens in Montreal. Rusty Habs fans cannot remember words to "Ole" chant after long layoff.

Sunday, Jan. 20: Islanders eliminated from playoffs.

Monday, Jan. 21: Bruins beat Maple Leafs in TD Garden opener. Upon return to Toronto, new Leafs goalie Roberto Luongo learns that his car has a flat and is unable to find anyone to pump his tires.

Saturday, Feb 2: Groundhog Day. Tim Thomas emerges from Colorado bunker, sees shadow, and returns to lair for remainder of hockey season.

Thursday, Feb. 21: Bruins rookie Dougie Hamilton extends goal-scoring streak to six games, asks to be called Doug.

Saturday, March 23: Tuukka Rask posts fourth-straight shutout. Tim Thomas posts fourth-straight anti-government rant on his Facebook page.

Friday, April 5: Shawn Thornton and Chris Neil hook up in a heavyweight bout at the Garden. Thornton hammers Neil as the two fall to the ice, reportedly screaming "Bettman!" after each blow.

Saturday, April 20: Milan Lucic runs over Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller while crashing the net for a rebound. Sabres players immediately apologize to Lucic and the rest of the Bruins for allowing the goalie to impede the Boston skater's forward momentum.

Sunday, May 5: Latest date of regular-season finale in NHL history.

In last-minute effort to appease fans in Columbus and Phoenix, all teams are invited to take part in playoffs.

Thursday, July 4: Game 7 of Stanley Cup finals. In its best move of the season, the NHL announces that instead of awarding Stanley Cup to winning team, it will be handed over to the fans. Every hockey fan insulted by the game's fourth work stoppage in 20 years gets his or her own day with the Cup.

Saturday, Oct 5: EA Sports releases NHL 2014 for xBox and Playstation.

Kids in the US and Canada are frustrated by the release, which features an empty ice arena for the first half of the game.

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.


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