NHL training camps and preseason games begin soon. So we can warm up our emotional engines and 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.
We've kicked off the month with an easy fan game: On even our worst rivals, which player(s) do you (grudgingly, or guiltily) appreciate? And of course, to cleanse your soul of such impure thoughts, which player do you hate most?
Today's team: The geographically incorrect Igloo-dwellers.
Love Envy and Hate: The Penguins
Hate: Oh Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, how doth I loathe thee? The ways are uncountable.
Your stars pout, your scoring wingers deliver low blows, your defensemen...actually, your remaining defensemen are decidedly un-Orpik like. So that's okay, I guess.
It is impossible to pick just one Penguin, even with so many departed -- Matt Cooke is gone, James Neal is off to knee the heads of Western foes, Brooks Orpik has taken his "skills" to torture D.C. fans in a whole new way.
Yes, the Penguins are a team who can shed tool after tool and still keep the toolbox full. So I'll go with Marc-Andre Fleury -- by many accounts a loveable Pen, truth be told -- but one we're tired of hearing about, from the early yellow pads and struggles to the mid-career hype to the recent playoff implosions.
He gave us hope in the 2013 playoffs -- but gave us too much hope, such that the Pens inserted a good goalie in his place, salvaging the series. When you're throwing a game, don't make it that obvious!
Love? Envy? Outside of McNally's Comeau crush, it's simply not possible to love a Penguin.
And you? Which Penguin do you hate most, and which one to you kinda, you know, privately, think is an alright guy? (You can base this on talent, admiration for a certain skillset, traditional passion-fueled fan hate and jealousy, or, I don't know, facial expressions.)