COUCH SLOUCH

The Big Chill

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By Norman Chad
Monday, September 24, 2007

As summer turns to autumn, who can't help but think of the National Hockey League?

Well, it's show time again for America's hidden sporting treasure starting this weekend!

Let's get caught up with all the whirlwind news from the NHL's offseason, which nowis pretty much just an extended three-day weekend:

- Sept. 29 marks the earliest regular season start in league history.

- The Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings will open the season with a home-and-home series in London.

(In other news, the NHL announced that the Ducks won last season's Stanley Cup title. League officials made this announcement in case anyone missed it. You might've missed it because, well, no one watches the NHL on TV and, even if you wanted to watch it, you might not have known it was on Versus.)

(Versus? It used to be OLN. It's called Versus because, in a drunken stupor, one OLN executive challenged another OLN executive to pick a new name for the cable network by randomly opening to any page of the dictionary, and he did! And they thought they had dodged a bullet because his index finger almost landed on Vermin.)

For reasons unclear to anyone not born under a hockey rink, the NHL keeps lengthening its season. One might say the NHL overstays its welcome, except most of us are not even aware it's in our living rooms.

The season now starts Sept. 29 and the Stanley Cup finals could go until June 9. This means -- and I want all of you sitting down when you hear this, so you can fall off the sofa like me -- that July and August are the only months the NHL does not play regular season or postseason games.

(College Interlude: If you are the Player of Destiny, you are supposed to play with a sprained right ankle. Colt Brennan did not Saturday. Colt, Colt, Colt -- ever hear of "Walk it off"? I am flying to Honolulu this morning to speak with the young lad. I wanted the Wife of Destiny, Toni, to come with me, but she's under the weather, too. I don't like it, my friends, I don't like it at all.)

Anyway, the NHL regular season will open in London. That would be like "Othello" opening in Disneyland.

(When I first heard the NHL was invading England, I thought to myself: What did they ever do to us? Oh, that's right -- they gave us William the Conqueror, the British East India Company, aristocracy, absolute monarchy, taxation without representation, rampant imperialism, bangers and mash, cricket, Prince Charles and Queen. Now that I think of it, if it were up to me, we'd send them the WNBA all-star game.)


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