While you can pinpoint with some accuracy who the likely contenders for the Stanley Cup are, there is still quite a bit of variance in the actual winner once you narrow down the field.
Every player, coach and referee who has ever appeared in the NHL has his own story to tell about his first game in the League. The tale of my first game reffing in the NHL is an unconventional one. That's par for the course with me.
What are the numbers?
Over the years, there have been numerous attempts by the game's powers that be to reduce the amount of criticism that officials get subjected to. You know what they say about where the road paved by good intentions often leads.
Pre-season is well under way for the Leafs and there are highlights and unfortunate low-lights. Kessel, Bozak and JVR are showing great strides as the cohesive first line.
First of all... any Leaf fan will tell you... haters gonna hate. Being scoffed at, criticized, mocked, poked, prodded and scrutinized is a daily occurrence for a Leaf fan.
The Leafs are four games into the preseason; including two games against the Flyers and a split-squad pairing against the Sens. Players were fighting to show their skills... some of them quite literally.
After many years, I am finally starting to figure out what my impact is and why I have lasted so long in this sport and this world after being counted out by others more times than I care to remember or count.
The seemingly endless saga of Ray Rice and his fellow miscreants raises some fundamental questions about the role of athletes in American culture.
Today, every sport is troubled by violence on and off the field, sexual predators, illegal drug usage, and corrupt practices. In the United States alone, one need only mention names - Bonds, Sandusky, Armstrong, Rice - but the list is endless.
Training camp is among us and with that comes all kinds of excitement, speculation and a whole whack of skeptics. The Leafs welcomed 64 players to this year's camp.
In my post-active career as an officiating supervisor and trainer, I have absolutely seen officials whom I can instantly tell are letting fear control them rather than confronting that fear by letting the game take shape and calling it accordingly.
As hockey fans, one of our favorite things to do is criticize the players. But are we giving these players enough credit? How hard is it actually to 'make it,' to 'go to the show,' to 'get the call?'
Hockey is a sport of trends as well as evolution. That includes the enforcement of the rulebook and the development of the rules themselves. But the enforcement of some rules is stressed more than others.
With the NHL Season Opener just over a month away, hockey fans everywhere are gearing up and placing their expectations.
I can't tell you how many games I see over the course of a season where plays happen and the national and local announcers and in-studio hosts act like they are puzzled as to why certain calls get made the way they do or why penalties are meted out in specific ways.