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McConnell's Blog: Summer Can't End Soon Enough

Wednesday, 08.01.2012 / 12:07 PM / McConnell's Blog
By Matt McConnell

So how’s your summer going? Tired of the heat and all the sideshows? Are you ready to get back to the rink?

Yep. Me too.

I love summer and all of its diversions, like trips to the ballpark, cooling off at the movies, pool time, catching up with family and tackling the often out of control honey-do list.

Matt McConnell

OK, so I like MOST things about summer. But enough is enough.

Eventually, baseball gets old, movie going becomes a time killer and even days on the floatie, much like trips to see family, leave us with plenty of time to daydream about our collective calling in life.

Hockey.

Look at it this way, summer is the buffer that allows us to keep our interests in hockey. We step away for a few weeks or months, only to end up counting the days until training camp. As summer fades, our passions rise and we’re ready to go again. As a broadcaster, there’s nothing like that first coffee of training camp, reuniting with friends and co-workers and truly believing your team has a shot to go all the way.

As fans, the process builds for weeks. Your season tickets arrive in the mail. You call your seatmates and immediately start breaking down the power play. You plan the preseason barbecue where you and 10 of your closest hockey lifers scrutinize the roster. Others set up meeting plans for opening night. Hockey becomes your life. Your jersey gets a summer cleaning and a priority spot in the closet. Finally, the season starts. Good days follow wins, especially those against Detroit.

The bad days?

No explanation needed.

It’s the annual hockey metamorphosis and it starts to take shape over the next several weeks. With September following August, priorities are no longer days by the pool but evenings at the rink. Memories of 2011-12 begin to wane, replaced by the optimism of 2012-13.

Don’t worry. No need to schedule a trip to your primary care physician. Your symptoms are normal. Just watch a reply of Game 6 from the Chicago playoff series and get plenty of fluids and rest.

Steve Sullivan. Photo by Getty Images.

With each season come new faces. Shortly after Ray Whitney bolted to Dallas, Steve Sullivan arrived. His shifty and skillful ways are ready to touch the game in multiple areas. Power play anyone?

Ditto regarding the return of defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who checks back into the Valley after never really checking out to Pittsburgh a couple of seasons ago. “Z” fortifies an unheralded blue line, a team strength and a revelation to the hockey world last spring.

We also welcome David Moss to the Valley, along with his size, versatility and willingness to set up camp in front of the opposition that typically wears #1, #29, #30 or #31. You get the picture. And the Coyotes get bigger up front.

As fans, we ready our vocal cords and learn to chant “SMITT-Y! SMITT-Y! SMITT-Y!” all over again. A year ago, Coyotes fans were scratching their collective heads, concerned over the team’s goaltending situation. This past season, they shook their heads in disbelief over the saves and performances turned in by team MVP Mike Smith.

We all look to build off the momentum and success of the 2011-12 Coyotes edition, when the team was daily front-page news, when fans jammed Westgate plaza, when hundreds if not thousands, greeted the team plane after division and playoff clinching wins, when Jobing.com Arena was wall to wall white and sellouts were routine.

Finally, we look forward to witnessing another encore presentation of the Maloney and Tippett Show; the general manager’s continuing fortification of the roster heading towards the start of the season and the head coach’s tactical definitions of roles and strategies within the ranks.

And while the NHL presses on towards solutions regarding ownership and labor, we continue our own personal, off-season preparations knowing anything worthwhile has always been worth the wait.

Coyotes Hockey included.

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