Sunday, August 2, 2009

A long look back

Really, it's not that I didn't want to put together this review of our efforts of the 2008-09 hockey-hounding season. No, that wasn't the reason for its delay. It was more all the things that have kept me busy since the season ended down here in early April.

Mostly, it's been because of willingly accepting an increase in obligations here at home -- eschewing summer camp so Colin and I could spend more time together, landing a bunch of freelance work, hanging out at the Tampa Bay Lightning's prospects camp and, to keep our hounding games in shape, embarking upon our Summer of Baseball.

To be honest, I'm surprised I didn't get to this final review of the season earlier. Given that we added another 1,738 autographs, including 330 pucks, to the collection, one might believe that I'd trumpet our successes as soon as I could.

Didn't happen, though, did it?

So, now, without further delay, here are the top 20 highlights of the 2008-09 hockey-hounding campaign:

~ Loving every minute of watching 316 NHL players fill up 22 of Colin's hand-drawn team sheets.

~ Colin snagging the top three picks in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, including Tampa Bay's Victor Hedman, during their predraft trip to Humidity Bay.

~ Being in the right place at the right time for Washington's Alexander Semin. Thanks again, Moody.

~ Absolutely ruining Curtis Joseph's day when the Toronto Maple Loafs came to town.

~ Having Columbus' Rick Nash sign four pucks, including one of the OHL's London Knights.

~ Catching up with one of my favorite hockey players, former Buffalo Sabres captain Danny Gare.

~ Being surprised when Washington's Sergei Fedorov changed his mind about signing an autograph.

~ Getting Tampa Bay's Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos to sign 2009 NHL All Star Game pucks in a single day.

~ Compiling 25 autographs, including Cam Neely, Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel and Tim Thomas, on a new-look Boston Bruins third jersey.

~ Catching up with old buddies -- Boston Patrice Bergeron and Carolina's Cam Ward

~ Celebrating Martin Brodeur's return from injury when New Jersey visited Humidity Bay in February.

~ Having Triple Gold winner Brendan Shanahan sign the Team Canada jersey.

~ Reaching out to a fellow Buffalo kid, Chicago's Patrick Kane, and having him sign a pair of pucks.

~ Loading up a helmet with 26 signatures from members of the Montreal Canadiens.

~ Getting Dallas' Mike Modano to sign the Team USA jersey and a Stars puck.

~ Scoring 103 autographs in a single day, our best effort of the season, from the Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

~ Having 26 members of the Florida Panthers, including Keith Ballard, Jay Bouwmeester, Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss, sign a team helmet.

~ Four pucks signed by San Jose's Jeremy Roenick, one of the game's fan-friendliest players.

~ The Tampa Bay Lightning's training camp and other over-the-summer activities presented the perfect opportunity to load up on autographs from Tampa Bay's Olaf Kolzig and Steven Stamkos.

~ Getting pretty sweet autographs from Hall of Famers Phil Esposito and Tony Esposito.

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