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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Everything Old is New Again

Or, as the great Yogi Berra said, "It's like deja vu all over again." What I'm referring to is the manner in which NHL history seems to be repeating itself this season.

As a child, I collected hockey cards, some of which I still have. Today, Tex Jr. collects cards, and I've noticed lately that many of his brand-new cards have strangely familiar names on them - names like Nystrom, Tambellini and Gilles immediately come to mind (and, being a Ranger fan, I find this quite disconcerting). I'm seeing Suter and Sutter, too. Of course, when was the last time we didn't see the name "Sutter" associated with the NHL? The list goes on: Crombeen. Parise. Wilson. Though the name isn't directly related to the NHL, "Viktor Tikhonov" has a familiar, Miraculous ring to it, too.

The similarities to the NHL of my youth go beyond names. As I watched the Winter Classic, it occurred to me that the 08/09 Chicago Blackhawks might share some commonalities with the 81/82 or 82/83 Edmonton Oilers. Just as the Oilers were back then, I believe the Blackhawks are on the cusp of greatness today. On the flip side, in 08/09, just as in 81/82, there's substandard hockey being played in Colorado (and I'll take Chico Resch over Peter Budaj, any day of the week).

There have been changes, of course: The Rockies moved to New Jersey, to give this Ranger fan another nearby team to hate. The Jets flew off to the desert, the Whalers to Tobacco Road, and the Nordiques filled the void in Colorado. Nine teams joined the league. Change is inevitable, I suppose. This season, though, everything old - including the excitement of the game itself - is new again.

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