Going into this 2009-10 hockey-hounding campaign, there's only one goal -- to have as much fun as possible.
It's not about topping the 2,000-puck plateau, though that will be quite an achievement, if I do say so myself. Racking up another 1,000-plus autographs -- a given considering the ever-expanding hounding schedule -- hardly factors into the equation. Nor does stepping on a few toes along the way.
No, folks, it's as simple as reconnecting with the primary reason I got into this little hobby of ours in the first place -- to hang out with like-minded individuals, yuck it up and enjoy myself. There were times last season when hounding, as well as maintaining the blog, felt like a job.
Those feelings, too, nearly led me to retire, so to speak, from the game.
But rather than walk away from something that brought enjoyment, it was time to take a different approach. As a result, you'll notice some changes over the 2009-10 campaign:
~ Don't expect daily postings this season. Between my newspaper job, increased freelance work and responsibilities at home, I'm simply not going to have the time every day for Hound Central 5.0.
Over the past three seasons, I've averaged more than 528 postings, including 610 alone for Hound Central 4.0. This season, I'm hoping to keep it below 400, meaning there could be two- to three-day stretches, primarily when the Bolts are on road trips, when I won't file a post.
~ We're also dropping the time-intensive Hockey Quiz feature. It never got more than two or three entries, and those were often the same people. To Drew and Brett in Calgary, two of Hound Central's most loyal readers, I hope you understand.
Having said that, though, I'm positive you'll find plenty of reasons, from hounding reports to new features to these homilies, to stop by Hound Central 5.0 a couple times a week. I'll also lean harder (just a bit, guys, I promise) on Hound Central 5.0's correspondents Moody and Allan to help fill the gaps.
Here at Hound Central 5.0, it isn't a new season unless we have a few hockey-hounding projects to keep ourselves busy, including these:
~ Colin's Pucks: Now that he's getting older, and a bit more responsible with paint pens, the Goofy Dude will be adding pucks to his repertoire. And, yes, he'll continue with his ever-popular team sheets.
~ Threads: Rather than have jersey memorabilia cards sitting in darkened boxes, we'll be seeding these into our autograph card stock on a consistent basis, defined as at least one for every team that travels to Hockey Bay.
~ HockeyBayHound: Given the popularity of our hounding photo galleries last season, Hound Central 5.0 now has its own channel at YouTube. If I were you, I'd keep an eye out for other multimedia or social networking projects.
5 Big Sigs
Even though the New Jersey Devils and the Carolina Hurricanes come to Hockey Bay this week, my work schedule and Colin's hockey mean we can only set our sights on the Devils. Still, this is what we'll be looking to add:
~ Martin Brodeur on a Canada souvenir puck (missed);
~ Lou Lamoriello and Zach Parise on USA pucks;
~ Patrik Elias on a Czech Republic puck (didn't make the trip);
~ Brian Rolston on Bruins and Avalanche pucks; and
~ Bryce Salvador on Devils and Blues pucks.