It's hard to believe, isn't it, that the 2009-10 NHL season is nearly over? It seems like it was just last month that we were scoring our first autographs of the hockey-hounding campaign before the Tampa Bay Lightning's training camp.
Nearly 1,500 autographs later, though, we're down to our last few adventures of the season. Granted, the campaign could be extended, provided the Lightning finds a way to make the playoffs. I doubt that will happen.
So, yes, it's been a long season, just like the past few years, with the wide range of highs and lows, laughs and frustrations, and the miles of pounding the pavement. But, it's been a special season, too, for a number of reasons:
~ More than anything else, we hit an impressive milestone -- adding the 2,000th autographed puck from Boston's Patrice Bergeron, Colin's best NHL buddy;
~ Hound Central 5.0 has given a voice to other hockey hounds, including Moody, the blog's senior correspondent; Al, our man in Toronto; and all who've taken part in our Your Turn project; and
~ Providing another example of sticking with someone you've started, even if it meant adding more to an already loaded plate.
As I've said many times before, Hound Central 5.0 represents the end of the line of my major commitment to blogging about hockey hounding. Simply put, it's time to step back and see who, if anyone, steps up to match the body of work over the past five seasons.
Until season's end, though, it'll be full speed ahead. I've ground it out so far, so there's no sense in scaling back now. In fact, I'll push hard to finish strong. I don't know of any other way.
The streets of downtown St. Petersburg will come to life this weekend as the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, featuring the top Indy Racing League drivers, tear up the asphalt.
Though we had plans to take in Sunday's race, the last two games on Colin's winter hockey season come first. Instead, we'll take in Saturday's afternoon's action and, if it happens, make our way through the fan-friendly autograph session.
Of course, we'll try to get Danica Patrick's autograph. I get the sense, though, that the line, just like last year, will be very long. Still, I know of one young fan who won't mind the wait.
And, really, do you blame him?
5 Big Sigs
Unlike last week, when the Phoenix Coyotes and the Buffalo Sabres came to town, only the Carolina Hurricanes, a Southeast Division rival, will visit. As a result, one might think the pickings could be pretty slim. That isn't the case:
~ Carolina's Rod Brind'Amour and Jussi Jokinen on a 2009-10 MVP Two on Two quad-player jersey card;
~ Carolina's Zach Boychuk on a Lethbridge Hurricanes puck;
~ Carolina's Brandon Sutter on a Red Deer Rebels puck;
~ Carolina's Eric Staal on a jersey card for the Threads project; and
~ Carolina's Erik Cole on a jersey card.