Welcome to an early Christmas present for hockey fans.
It's the ultimate day in the NHL.
For only the second time in league history, 30 teams face off on the same day, and about nine hours of action will be found across the continent starting at 2 p.m. today for those of us in the Stampede City.
(Of course, that's on top of the usual Saturday fare of minor hockey games, junior clashes and college tilts that can be easily found.)
Here's a question for the NHL's powers: Why not do this more often? It hasn't happened since the 2005-06 season opener.
What makes the NFL truly special is the Sunday tradition of channel surfing through several games at the same time, with a coffee table loaded with munchies, a beverage and some Sports Select tickets to monitor, plus the office pool.
The NHL should try to duplicate that formula more often for its die-hard fans.
Sure, it's not easy to ensure 15 NHL buildings are available and the time frame fits for scheduling, especially when you need to fit in a couple of afternoon tilts and have NBA teams sharing arenas, but it's worth the effort.
It should be possible once or twice a season to schedule all 30 teams play the same day.
If not, at least drum up some other day-long celebrations.
Look at how successful CBC's Hockey Day in Canada has become. Yeah, it's campy at times, but it promotes the game in such a wonderful way.
Why not do the same with the three New York-area teams?
Why not have an Original Six day?
Why not a Hockey Day in California triple-header?
Those long, cold Saturdays from November through February would be so much more tolerable.
Maybe it's just because he's only focused on his job, but goalie Miikka Kiprusoff had no answers when asked how his teammates were better defensively against Washington than previous games. "I'm just a goalie," he said. "I think it was better, but you have to ask the smarter guys about it." ... His plus-4 rating aside in the Thursday night's win over Nashville, Dion Phaneuf has not improved his game defensively, and until he does, he won't win a Norris Trophy.
It's absurd the NHL hasn't put a second team in Toronto or the surrounding area. There are three in New York City's area -- don't kid yourself, the Devils are as much a NYC team as they are New Jersey -- and two in Southern California, but only one in the centre of the hockey universe. The NHL's revenue base is still ticket sales, and 19,000 fans at a game every night for Toronto's version of the New York Jets is much better than all those cities in the U.S. where the buildings are only half full ... Still can't help but think we'll see a team in Kansas City before a second in Toronto ... Speaking of the Leafs, did you hear the latest on Mats Sundin? Oh, who cares. Let me know when he signs somewhere ... Funny how RIM billionaire Jim Balsillie is getting such a freeze out in his efforts to buy a team, but everybody around the league uses his company's product 24/7.
Before tonight's game in Tampa, flu shots are available for $25, and fans will receive a voucher that can be used to buy a game ticket for $10. Talk about a team that doesn't deserve to have a Stanley Cup banner in its arena ... How's this for a sign of the apocalypse: Starting in January, the Universite de Montreal's faculty of theology will begin offering a graduate course titled "The Religion of the Montreal Canadiens" ... Has the value of a Gordie Howe hat trick has been reduced after Colorado's Ian Laperriere recorded one this week? Then again, the always quotable Laperriere went up a notch in a lot of peoples' eyes after he mocked Edmonton's Zack Stortini by hugging himself after their "fight". Fans in Calgary refer to Stortini as Huggy Bear.
YOU DON'T SAY
"He kept sending those guys (Stortini and MacIntyre) out there when it was 4-1 and I don't think it was to score goals. Cracked me up a bit. It's kind of funny a guy who never fought, sends those guys out there."
-- Colorado's Ian Laperriere with some harsh words aimed at Oilers coach Craig MacTavish.