The season's started ... think I'd better dance now!
The NHL season is about a week and a half old and we need more time to sort everything out. But here are at least six things we kind of, sort of, know:
1. Those jerseys
Every NHL player looks as if he is wearing a boy's medium T-shirt purchased at Express from the local mall instead of a NHL jersey. This is something one would expect a weightlifter from South Jersey to wear out to dinner with the Mrs. at Applebee's, not Andrew Cogliano at Joe Louis Arena.
2. Jeremy and those jerseys
Upon further review, the San Jose Sharks are wearing arguably the ugliest uniforms in any team sport in the history of team sports. When Art Howe was wearing a polyester Houston Astros uniform in the Astrodome circa 1981, maybe that was the worst; but that is hotly debatable because Howe was so hot in '81. When I see these Sharks uniforms on television, I think I'm watching a skit from "Full House" in which Joey Gladstone goes five-hole on a stumbling Uncle Jesse. These Sharks are so 1991, so "Yo! MTV Raps." "Everybody dance now!" These things need to be put into a dumpster, set on fire and rolled down a mountain as soon as possible. Then again, maybe that's why Jeremy Roenick is off to a good start. He thinks it's actually 1991.
3. Confidence in Chicago
After watching the Blackhawks' first couple of games, I am a little more confident (but not wholly) in my preseason prediction that Chicago will make the playoffs. Four straight summers of having a single-digit draft pick is beginning to pay off. It's still a long shot, especially with Martin Havlat's injury, but this is a good team.
The worst stretch in the team's history was from 1946 to 1958 -- they made the playoffs just once. We are presently in the second-worst span, as Chicago has missed the playoffs eight of the last nine seasons, but things are obviously on the upside. Patrick Kane, the No. 1 overall draft pick this past June, is already an impact player. Choosing No. 88 showed wisdom beyond his years. With that identical snowmen number, Kane looks much bigger than his 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame. No number makes you look bigger than 88. Kane asked for No. 888, but was rebuffed by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who has started to wear No. 88 on the back of his Men's Wearhouse suit.
As the season goes along, Kane will go through stretches when he gets worn down, but he has "star" written all over him, and that's because he sees the ice. He has five-star vision. These kinds of players are usually foolproof. Jonathan Toews, who should make his NHL debut this week, is further along than Kane, so he will be an impact guy right away. If the Blackhawks can get Havlat back in December, just when the young guys might need a hand, Chicago could be looking good.
4. All the right moves in Ottawa
Ottawa has picked up right where it left off. By signing Dany Heatley when they did, the Senators sent a message to the entire team and fan base that they are serious players. It's what Buffalo should have done in training camp in 2006 -- 99.9 percent of NHL players will take a multiyear, market-value contract in camp. That's how most NHL players are programmed. The game is too difficult and too dangerous. Chris Drury and Daniel Briere would have taken lesser deals from the Sabres than they ended up receiving this past summer from the Rangers and Flyers, respectively. The Sabres are still good without Drury and Briere, but they aren't great. Ottawa and Heatley look great so far. Heatley has the look of a Hart Trophy winner.
5. Rangers need time
Over time, the New York Rangers should jell and become an Eastern Conference force. Still, things on this planet are not guaranteed. Who would have thought Chumbawamba would not have been able to churn out critically acclaimed CD after critically acclaimed CD? We thought Brett Hull and Wayne Gretzky were a natural fit and would produce countless magic moments. Counting the playoffs, Gretzky played only 31 games in St. Louis, so we will never know for sure. But, again, combinations don't always work. Championships are special occurrences when people come together in an organic way, a way that can't be contrived or forced. Those are always the best relationships.
That being said, this Rangers eBay shopping spree is not analogous to some of the old mindless Rangers free-agent signings. Drury and Scott Gomez are young and energetic champions. The Rangers should be able to sort this all out. Odds are they will, but it might take a long time or it might not happen at all. Maybe they still need more speed or blue-line savvy. Until they start clicking and playing high-level hockey game after game, the Rangers still have to be looked upon as an experiment.
6. Mr. McGeough
Mick McGeough in a hockey helmet is still high comedy. Very high comedy. Picture, ah picture, picture, just picture McGeough in a hockey helmet.
We have a new feature this season. I want you to interview subjects for me. I will give you the subject, then you can e-mail me your question along with your name and location. I'll pick the best questions, ask the subject and give the answers the next week.
Mailbag (sort of)
I just wanted to say how great it was to be able to see an NHL game in London. The crowd wore jerseys from virtually every NHL team, and teams from across the UK and Europe were really well represented, too. I think that this is great for the NHL and hockey in general, and it was good to be able to show how much we appreciate hockey on this side of the pond! So thanks to all the players and the people involved who organized the game. We really appreciated it!
You gave us The Beatles, we gave you Michael Cammalleri. Are we even now?
I was wondering if our British friends mistook Randy Carlyle for Benny Hill.
There's more mailbag where that came from! Check out Bucci's Mother of All Mailbags every Thursday at ESPN.com.
John Buccigross is an anchorman for "SportsCenter" and ESPNEWS. For questions, comments or crosschecks, e-mail him at email@example.com. To check out his new book, "Jonesy: Put Your Head Down & Skate", click here.
MORE NHL HEADLINES
- Avs goalie Varlamov has charges dropped
- Capitals' Ovechkin scores 400th career goal
- Vanek lifts Islanders past slumping Rangers
- Rinne's recovery from hip infection delayed