The 2013-2014 NHL Season is finally upon us. A lot of storylines clutter this new season. One of the most important of those, however, is that the NHL realignment is in full force. The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets have moved to the Eastern Conference and the Winnipeg Jets have been sent to the West. This is crucial because it makes the Eastern Conference that much more competitive. Detroit brings along their veteran presence, led by their super skilled Swedish captain Henrik Zetterberg and the dazzling Russian Pavel Datsyuk. Along with new acquisitions Stephen Weiss from Florida and Daniel Alfredsson from Ottawa, this team brings back many key players from last year in which they were only a game away from eliminating the now Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. Columbus also proves to be a big threat, backed by Vezina-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, along with key offseason acquisition Nathan Horton from the Boston Bruins. Horton helped the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup final for the 2nd time in 3 seasons.
The other large headline of the offseason was headed by the Boston Bruins and the Dallas Stars. The Boston Bruins sent young, budding star Tyler Seguin, along with veteran Rich Peverley and AHLer Ryan Button to the Dallas Stars for the young Swedish forward Loui Eriksson and a host of talented youngsters, including Matt Fraser, Reilly Smith (who projects to be on the Bruins 3rd line to start the year), and Joseph Morrow. Many were shocked that the Bruins, who drafted Seguin 2nd overall in 2010, had given up on him so quickly. But the Bruins, still feeling the defeat of the Game 6 loss in their home building, needed something to spark them and get them over the hump in the coming season. The departure of Horton and the trade of Seguin and Peverley allowed them to free up enough cap space to also sign the longtime Calgary Flame, Jarome Iginla. Iginla spurned Boston for Pittsburgh at the trade deadline last year, but comes in very humble looking to utilize his talents in Boston to help them net another Stanley Cup, and his first.
There are a lot of great headlines to look forward to this upcoming season, things that would take a while to cover. The big things to look forward to this year is whether or not the Chicago Blackhawks can avoid the Stanley Cup hangover and try to become the first team to win back to back Stanley Cups since the Red Wings did it in 1997 and 1998. Also, all eyes are trained on the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the greatest player in the world, Sidney Crosby, to see if he can lead the Penguins back to the playoffs and try to get over the seemingly impenetrable force in the Boston Bruins, as they swept the Penguins out of the playoffs this past June. To most of the hockey world, which is mostly Toronto Maple Leafs fans, their hopes are once again high to see if this may be the year for the Leafs to finally hoist the cup again, as they are the team with the longest Stanley Cup drought, last winning it in 1967. Superstar Phil Kessel just signed an 8-year, $64 million dollar extension with the Leafs just days ago, and looks to lead his team back to the playoffs and try to avoid another epic collapse that Leafs fans and the team are trying to put behind them.
Overall, it looks to be yet another fantastic hockey season to look forward to. Everybody is starting fresh, there are new faces in new places, and everybody just wants to lace up the skates and get back onto the ice, because the offseason was just too long. I say let’s drop the puck, and get the season underway! I would love to hear your comments and opinions below on the upcoming season.