If there's any one lesson I can pass along, it's to always trust your instincts. If you always stand at one spot outside a certain hotel during a regular-season hounding session, there's no reason why it wouldn't work during a preseason game.
In other words, if it isn't broke, don't fix it.
For example, take this past Friday, when the Atlanta Thrashers met the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Bolt's only home preseason game here in Hockey Bay. After a decent run -- from informal skates to training camp -- I was looking forward to seeing some new faces.
Granted, few of the Thrashers big-name players traveled -- no Ilya Kovalchuk, Bryan Little, Tobias Enstrom, Slava Kozlov, Kari Lehtonen nor Nik Antropov. Our big names? Zach Bogosian, Angelo Esposito and Evander Kane, the team's top pick at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Well, the five Hockey Bay hounds all missed Esposito as the 2007 first-rounder, blending in with a group of prospects and team staff, reached the morning skate bus before we could cross the street. Had we been closer -- like we normally are -- perhaps he would've stopped to sign.
As for Bogosian, I ran out of items for him last season. Kane, thankfully, was happy to sign.
Still, after adding 27 autographs, including this puck from Anthony Stewart, I really shouldn't complain. It was the first game-day hounding session since April.
As Southeast Division foes, the Thrashers' big names, including Esposito, will be back -- twice within a month in December and January.
Hopefully, I'll scrounge up something for Bogosian by then.
Signing cards, shown above, were Jason Krog, Drew MacIntyre, Anssi Salmela and Jim Slater. Also signing cards were Ondrej Pavelec and Boris Valabik.