Of all the weeks of the 2009-10 NHL season, the next two carry the biggest expectations. Sure, seeing that Christmas comes Friday plays a major role in my anticipation. More so, though, is that Colin, well into his hockey-hounding apprenticeship, has the next two weeks off as a holiday break.
Thanks to the NHL schedule makers, too, this vacation will afford ample opportunity for him to hone the craft. Four teams -- the Flyers, Thrashers, Bruins and Canadiens -- all travel to Hockey Bay before month's end. And, thankfully, I have most of those days off from work.
Even better, and I alluded to this last week, is we're nearing our next milestone in the collection -- 2,000 autographed pucks. With a little hard work and even more hustle -- two attributes that can make or break a hounding season -- we should top that mark sometime next week.
More than anything else, though, the next two weeks mean we'll get to spend more time together. Most weeks, our school and work schedules mean we only get to see each other for 10 or 15 minutes a day -- he's getting ready for school and I'm waking up from a another long night at the paper.
The time off will go far beyond Christmas morning and hockey-hounding. We'll have time to sit down and talk -- reinforcing his growing responsibilities at home, school and his hockey team -- as well as chill out. There will be games to play, slices of Fortunato's pizza to eat and, most importantly, strengthening the bonds between father and son.
Among the presents we'll open Christmas morning, the best I'll receive, beyond the one that Colin made for The Missus and me, will be the time spent together. It always has been and always will be.
It's my prayer, too, that all of you enjoy that as well.
Hound Central 5.0 will publish this week its first installment of Your Turn, what we hope will become a regular feature of the blog where readers and fellow hounds share their stories of hockey hounding.
So far, four hockey hounds -- Jordan, BEV, Scott and Keith -- have taken the time to send in their stories. A tip of Hound Central 5.0's old, roughed up Cooper SK600 to them for their efforts. Now, if only a few more hounds, among the 40-plus who visit daily, would step up and follow suit.
As you can see, Hound Central 5.0 more than welcomes stories from other hounds. This season alone, Moody and Al, a pair of seasoned hockey-hounding veterans who swerve as Hound Central 5.0 correspondents, have filed many reports, each offering a different perspective.
In the remaining months of the 2009-10 campaign, I'd like to give as many hounds as I can a platform to share their stories.
If you have one, let me know.
5 Big Sigs
Like I said earlier, we'll ramp up this week, as well as get the entire family involved, when the Philadelphia Flyers and Atlanta Thrashers visit Hockey Bay during the first week of the holiday break.
Here's what we're hoping to add as we push toward 2,000 pucks:
~ Philly's James van Riemsdyk on a Flyers puck, as well as the University of New Hampshire hockey jersey;
~ Philly's Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Mike Richards on 2010 Winter Classic pucks;
~ Philly's Chris Pronger on St. Louis Blues and Hartford Whalers pucks;
~ Atlanta's Nikolai Antropov on Thrashers and N.Y. Rangers pucks; and
~ Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk on a Thrashers souvenir puck.