My hockeyless summer of discontent is finally over

I can't start the new season without bringing back some old-school pictures for all of you in Hockey Nation, all of you who have anxiously awaited the new season, all of you who have staunchly pointed out to all the pigskinners and seamheads that yes, that sport on ice does really exist.

So, I give you some meat …

I toss out some octopi …

I salute you with plastic rats …

Warm … fuzzy … feelings.

The season is under way, just over 100 days since the Carolina Hurricanes hoisted the Stanley Cup in Raleigh, N.C. I wish their banner-raising ceremony didn't feel as long as that summer break. Four minutes and change. Help me.

Fan Law: The actual banner-rising-to-the-rafters moment should not be longer than a two-minute minor for roughing.

So, I am here in beautiful Bristol, watching our in-house feeds of the hockey games. It's not the RBC Center or the ACC or the Pepsi Center, but it will have to do. The Maple Leafs are having a pregame ceremony for Leonard "Red" Kelly, the late Clarence "Hap" Day and Borje Salming. It was beyond cool to see the Leafs faithful give this trio their due, especially Salming (it's a crime this legendary player never won a Cup).

And is it just me, or does Salming have a great hockey face? Square, overly defined, quite simply, a road map. Borje, this is no slight at all, but the ultimate term of endearment from a puckhead at heart.

"O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

I personally love Rush's version of the anthem. Break out that South Park DVD! "That movie has warped my fragile little mind!"

• Fan Law: The eyebrows of TV analysts cannot be bigger than their foreheads. That means you Tie Domi. You can have a face like Borje, but not the eyebrows of Andy Rooney.

For more styling tips, please see Mr. Melrose.

Damn those advertising gurus who decided it would be a good idea to use Irene Cara's "What A Feeling" as the flagship song for Molson Canadian. First, I have to have that song in my brain; second, I have to have visions of an "overzealous" fan running in place, a la Jennifer Beals (something tells me most of the audience would rather see the original); and last, it ruins a great product. Not that I would know, of course. A Canadian birdie told me.

Ahem, moving along then …

Fan Law: Only original versions of real Canadian bands/singers can support real Canadian products. Loverboy, Bryan Adams, The New Pornographers, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Arcade Fire … um, hello!

Jason Pominville has scored the first goal of the 2006-07 season. I am clapping out loud. "Woo-hoo, first goal of the season." Of course, I am alone in this, all alone. Even though the Yankees-Tigers divisional series game is in a rain delay, no one at work is sharing my hockey glee. Tough crowd. But I won't let the man get me down.

So, I should also share a major development here in the greater Bristol area. Now, the town boasts a clock museum and an elevator testing plant along with the Worldwide Leader, but we had a major addition in the last month. I am going to try to contain my excitement … trying … oh, puck it.


Coffee, soups, sandwiches, Timbits, oh my! This might not seem like a big deal to those of you who have not tasted the caffeine nectar that is TH coffee, but for those of you who have crossed the line, you know. Oh, you understand. I highly recommend the maple dip donuts. Of course, the new addition has sparked a heated debate in the office. Which is best: Tim Hortons, Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks. I leave it up to you, puckheads. Power to the people.

Fan Law: Beer, donuts, pizza, beer, brats, chili, beer. All appropriate dining for hockey games. Clogged arteries be damned.

The Sabres-Hurricanes game has been fun to watch. Quick, up-tempo pace, just where they left off in the Eastern Conference finals. I know there has been much ado about the new Sabres uniforms. I understand your pain, Buffalo traditionalists. But I ask this: Are they worse than the Lady Liberty (Rangers), Morton's Fisherman (Islanders), Big V (Canucks), the-team-formally-known-as-the-Mighty-Ducks bill (Anaheim) and Joker's Wild (L.A. Kings) shirts of yesteryear? We say not. And besides, if you're watching those jerseys in June, will it all really matter? Remember, things could be worse, like the Maple Leafs' defense tonight.

As the Senators take a 3-0 lead over the Leafs in the second period, we get to witness the start of this season's worth of miked players. Now, I have no problem with the general idea of exposing viewers to athlete-speak. But let's face it: it's pretty generic in hockey.

"All right boys, let's go, let's go."

"Good kill, D. Good kill."

"Let's pick it up out there now. Let's go."

"Hey, hey, hey!"

No, we're not repeating things for effect. The only way this will ever be effective is if we can hear a player cursing out someone. You know, Reggie Dunlop-style.

"I am personally placing a $100 bounty on the head of Tim McCracken. He's the head coach and chief punk on that Syracuse team."

Tim McCracken. What a hockey name.

Fan Law: A true hockey fan will never, ever start a petition to bring back the glowing puck.

We have a shootout in the Hurricanes-Sabres game. Fantastic. This game has been fun to watch. Lots of speed. Lots of physical play. Lots of playoff feel, especially in the latter minutes of the third period and overtime. My favorite sport is back, baby!

Fan Law: You can never love pucks too much.

Joy Russo is the NHL and Olympics editor for ESPN.com.