Editor's note: Today marks the start of Steve's September blog-a-rama. From here until the end of September, he vows to blog every single day. That Steve. He's really something.
(Cartoon courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer)
2008 will go down as the quickest summer ever. Actually, every summer feels a little shorter than the one before it. A product of getting older, I suppose. The good news is, the kids are back in school and hockey is upon us again. Gatineau opens defence of their Quebec Junior title with their first regular season game at home on Thursday night. The 67's regular season opens a week from Friday in Brampton and the Senators open the pre season in 11 days against the New York Rangers.
I honestly don't think Sens' training camp will be all that eventful this year. The 12 forwards will almost certainly be Alfie, Spezza, Heatley, Fisher, Vermette, Kelly, Ruutu, Neil, Bass, Donovan, Foligno and McAmmond. It's not that I think some of those 12 aren't replaceable. It's just that they're probably not replaceable by what's coming - the likes of Jesse Winchester, Jim O'Brien, Brad Isbister, Ryan Shannon, Ilya Zubov, Josh Hennessy or Alexander Nikulin. Not yet anyway.
If anyone bumps off one of the 12, it might be Christoph Schubert, who might be outduelled by Alex Picard for the last spot on the blueline.
On defence, the top five are Phillips, Volchenkov, Smith, Kuba and Lee. That leaves Schubert, Picard and Brendan Bell to brawl for the number 6 job. It also means local warhorse Luke Richardson is likely through.
In goal, it's obviously Martin Gerber and Alex Auld. Gerber will start the year as the number one. But who will play more games this year? Flip a coin. I'm not dazzled by this duo but hey, if you can win a cup with Chris Osgood...
The strength of this club is obviously the big three. If they all stay healthy, they have a good shot at competing in the East. If they don't, they may feel a little like the New England Patriots do today with the loss of Tom Brady. Not only can they not replace that kind of player (no one can), they can't even come remotely close.