Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Hockey Life: Hounding, maybe?

Let's be honest here, shall we? It's hard to live a hockey life if you can't get in a little hounding. It can't be all practices, games and skate-and-shoots, right? There has to be some time, even if it's only occasionally, to add to the collection.

So, with the dawn of the 2013-14 NHL season a little more than a month away, I'm finally turning my attention, or at least a little bit of it, to the Tampa Bay Lightning's home schedule. So far, I'm seeing what I like. Months between visits by the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres. More Detroit Red Wings. Less Florida Panthers. And the return of Western Conference teams.

The biggest question, however, is just how much time we'll be able to put in.

Work -- for me -- and school -- for Colin -- always take top priority. Because we do this as a hobby, rather than an income, we have to tend to those matters first. Again, we find ourselves in a travel hockey season. Colin's will also be playing, as his schedule allows, for the Pinellas P.A.L. Stars rec team. All told, Colin has the potential to be on the ice three to four days a week.

For those reasons alone, our opportunities will be focus primarily on teams we don't see all that often.

Thankfully, my primary freelance schedule, which pays for Colin's hockey and then some, is very flexible. I can work when I want, making up hours on other days as the need arises. Still, that'll take precedence most days, unless, of course, a Western Conference team travels to Hockey Bay.

What this means, I guess, is that the 2013-14 hounding campaign might be the most scaled back it has ever been. Quality, once again, will trump quantity. That's the way we like to build the collection.

At first glance, we'll likely head out at least 20 times, about half of the Lightning's home schedule. Of those, it looks like Saturday morning skates, at least the ones when Colin doesn't have a game, will be our go-to day:

October:  Los Angles Kings, Minnesota Wild and the Bruins, all within five days;
November: St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers and  the Anaheim Ducks;
December: Winnipeg Jets, Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes and the Montreal Canadiens;
January: Ottawa Senators and the Colorado Avalanche;
February: Red Wings, if necessary (Really? Who am I kidding?);
March: Sabres, Bruins New Jersey Devils and the Vancouver Canucks; and
April: Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

You know, looking back, it may not be that bad after all. Time will only tell.

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