Point of View

HNIC commentators gear up for NHL season

Hockey Night in Canada is on its way back. We'll know the exact date for that first game in a few days, but in the meantime our commentators are getting ready.

Mark Lee, Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Kelly Hrudey, P.J. Stock, Jim Hughson all weigh in

Hockey Night in Canada commentators Kelly Hrudey, left, and P.J. Stock are excited for the NHL season to get underway. (Malcolm Taylor/Getty Images)

Hockey Night in Canada is on its way back. 

We’ll know the exact date for that first game in a few days, but in the meantime our commentators are getting ready and itching for the puck to be dropped. When we first heard of the tentative agreement we asked them to comment on what they expect will happen. 

Here’s what they had to say:

Mark Lee

"I'm looking forward to the sound of unbridled enthusiasm that Winnipeg Jets fans bring to every home game.  Hopefully that hasn't been damaged by this obscene lockout. 

"I saw a report where not one Jets fan turned in their season tickets. After waiting 16 years for the NHL to come back, the lockout was but a temporary setback. I think they'll lead the way and be back with gusto. 

"That may not be the case in many American markets and for that the owners and players have nobody to blame but themselves. It will be very interesting to see how much damage they have done to the game. The damage could be large — not just the financial losses but also the lost goodwill. 

"Quite frankly, the 82-game season is too long. The lockout-shortened season will be a sprint. Winning streaks and losing slumps will be magnified. Starting goalies will be called upon to play almost every game. Injuries will be prominent. Rivalries will be amplified by the intra-conference schedule. This will be the silver lining for fans who've been taken for granted and alienated for the past four months."

PJ Stock

"I can't wait to see the Oilers play with a high-flying offence and on an 'anything-can-happen on defence' type of team, it should be fun. 

"And head's up NHL, Sidney Crosby and the Penguins are healthy.

"How much better will the Wild be? And it's been a while since I've been on Facebook but hopefully we'll have some good stuff from Timmy Thomas. Hockey's back, which means more poor tie selections by Elliotte Friedman every Saturday night!!!"

Kelly Hrudey

"From my experience going through a lockout which led to a shortened 48-game schedule, this will be the best hockey we have experienced in years.

"There simply is too much at stake every single game for players to slowly ease their way into a groove."

Cassie Campbell-Pascall

"I am looking forward to watching Sidney Crosby and how he will do after such a long time away.

"The possibility of Rick Nash playing with Brad Richards in New York holds all sorts of possibilities. Then there’s the Northwest Division and some teams I like to watch. Minnesota is much improved and the young Oiler team looks like it is ready to take the next step. 

"With the Flames there are still many questions, including how they do with new faces like Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman, and of course, we’ll all be watching the already good Canucks."

Jim Hughson

"I wonder if the teams with lots of players active during the lockout like Edmonton [AHL] and Ottawa [AHL and Europe] will  have an advantage, especially early on.

"Does the window of Cup opportunity close a little on teams like Vancouver that are above average age and had few players doing anything during the lockout?

"Will the extra rest benefit the Cup champs from LA?

"What qualities will win out in a short season? Goaltending, youth, defence? I suspect goaltending because a good goaltender is a slump buster and teams won’t be able to afford even a short slump

"I also think the shoot-out becomes more a of a factor than ever before. During the last short season in 94-95 there were 75 ties in the NHL (Vancouver had 12 of them) but there won't be any this time and that’s a lot of points up for grabs over a very short season. No team will  be able to afford taking the shootout lightly."