It's the first of July, and you know what that means -- the official puck drop for hockey's "other" season.
Open season on free agents, that is.
And while some players' phones, or at least those of their agents, will be ringing off the hook (hello, Brad Richards), others will probably make it through the day with nary a text message, other than maybe a buddy wishing them a happy Canada Day.
Defenceman Shane Hnidy figures to be one of those.
"I'm sure I'm not going to be at the top of anybody's list," Hnidy was saying from his parents' home in Neepawa, Thursday.
The 35-year-old Stanley Cup winner with the Boston Bruins is sure about something else, too: he's not ready to retire. Not after missing almost all of last season with a shoulder injury, then coming back to play three regular season and three playoff games with the Bruins.
Stepping right into playoff hockey -- he filled in for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara in one game against the Habs and played two more against the Flyers -- and hearing people like Boston's Mark Recchi tell him he still has it has Hnidy as hungry as ever.
While he's not in the Bruins' plans, he's going to train as if he'll play at least another season.
"I've never really been handed anything," Hnidy said. "I know I can play again. I've got a couple years left in me."
Not dressing for much of Boston's Cup run allowed Hnidy to become an off-ice leader and mentor for some of the younger Bruins, and gave him a whole new appreciation for that role.
A young team could do a lot worse than add a steady, blue-collar defenceman with 550 regular season games, another 40 in the playoffs, under his belt.
A young team like, say, the Winnipeg Jets.
"It would be a dream for me to play in my home province," Hnidy said.
Another dream will come true when he brings the Cup to Neepawa.
Although he lives in Winnipeg with his wife and four kids, Hnidy will bring the trophy to his home town -- he's just not sure when.
In his first choice of days he was elbowed aside by someone in the Bruins front office.
"The president has it those dates," Hnidy said. "Which is Cam Neely. Whatever, as long as it gets here one day."
As for getting his name on the Cup, that's another story.
Since he didn't dress for a game in the final, he's not automatically eligible, although the Bruins are petitioning to have him, Marc Savard and Steven Kampfer included.
"It'd be a bonus," Hnidy said. "The main thing for me is winning it, raising it, getting the day (with it) and getting my ring. The ring's always going to be with me."
Now, if only his phone would ring in the next few days.
FLOOD FIGHTER: Andy Murray took some time out of his summer vacation to help his home town fight one of the worst floods it's ever seen.
The former NHL head coach spent a few days in Souris this week, and was blown away by the massive effort: people shutting down their businesses to join the fight, kids and seniors on the streets, directing traffic.
"I can't believe the water that's coming through here," Murray said. "I've never seen it. It's just incredible how the town is pulling together. These guys have been fighting this since April. They think they have it beat, and then it comes back.
"It makes you feel real proud to be from here, the way they've mobilized."
As for his professional life, Murray won't be back in the NHL next season, instead working with the national program in Switzerland.
"The only job that would have been of interest to me was the Jets job," Murray said.
In some ways the Swiss job is the next best thing.
Murray's daughter and two sons will all be playing hockey in Switzerland next season.