Players are skating, and NHL training camps are within sniffing distance. So we are warming up our emotional engines to conjure all the irrational excitement, hatred and other strongly worded feelings that accompany an eight-month devotion to watching men making billions playing a game.
This is part of a quick game of considering our rivals, with love (er, envy), and hate.
Hate: Milan Lucic is an ideal power forward, and also a tool. He is also the type of one-of-a-kind mythical unicorn that teams turn themselves inside out trying to replicate. Lucic Lust is what causes teams to draft every hulking, mouthbreathing goon from here to Medicine Hat hoping he'll blossom into a 30-goal top liner for a Cup winner. Much more often than not, this plan fails.
Other candidates include Zdeno Chara, the fearsome and fantastic former Islander, who you perhaps begrudge for the Pacioretty incident or his dramatic dive at the brutal hands of noted headhunter Frans Nielsen. Even more easy to hate is Brad Marchand, who Dom called a, "Grade A Weasel." I'm not going to argue that certification.
The judges will also accept Bruins cheerleader/apologist Joe Haggerty.
Love: One of the most fun things for sports fans to monitor is a good team that has had all of its well-paid chickens come home to roost. No one outside of Dallas Stars fans had heard of Reilly Smith when he came over in (what at the time was) the Tyler Seguin for Loui Ericsson trade. After popping 20 goals last season, Smith is an RFA the Bruins suddenly need to sign for their future. Defenseman Torey Krug is also awaiting a new contract.
Which means someone - Johnny Boychuck, Marchand, maybe Chris "$3 million a year for some reason" Kelly - will be jettisoned whether they like it or not. Popcorn, please.
Envy: Yeah, paying each their millions is tricky. But having those guys during two runs to the Final and a Cup was probably a lot of fun.
And you? Which (current) Broon do you hate most, and which one do you think is an alright guy but refuse to talk to your Yankees fan friends about because any mention of the word "Boston" immediately sends them into a rage like a hungry howler monkey that just escaped from the Bronx Zoo? Please show your work.