"It’ll be called Opening Night, but it won’t be Opening Night. We’ve lost Opening Night this season.
We’ve lost the weeks of steady transition from the summer shopping spree to the preseason to the finalized roster, as players you’ve never heard of and rookies you’ve yearned to see earn their right to play. Also lost: New line combinations, which are as alluring to a hockey fan as a reinvented classic entrée is to a foodie.
We’ve lost those gloriously tacky red carpet entrances for the players. Cheesy and presumptuous? Totally. Honoring our pasty-faced ice heroes as they awkwardly strut through lines of fans like they were at the premiere of the latest “Twilight” movie? There’s just something very hockey about it.
We’ve lost the fanfare around the arena; the extra mile to which teams go in order to make the first night of the season feel like an event rather than a pedestrian regular-season game. Who knew bag pipes and face-painters and a terrible local cover band was the recipe for comfort food?
We’ve lost the kinetic combination of the home arena’s fresh intro music and video — either setting the tone for the season, or the latest source of ridicule for cynical puckheads — segueing perfectly into the boys skating out faster than they would for any other regular-season home game.
We’ve lost the player-by-player introductions, in which Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin share the same spotlight, if not the same ovation.
We’ve lost the thrill of seeing Rick Nash in his New York Rangers jersey or Jaromir Jagr as a member of the Dallas Stars for the first time, the progression of their NHL careers interrupted by Nash looking like a billboard on skates in Davos and Jagr slumming it with HC Kladno.
We’ve lost the hours counting down to game time, like a child anxiously hoping for Christmas morning to arrive.
We’ve lost that spiritual moment right as the puck drops, when thousands of fans in the building and watching across the continent allow last season to slip into memory’s abyss and embrace the new. The moment of rebirth, of hope and the unknown. (Of course, that moment will itself tumble into the abyss once it becomes apparent your team doesn’t have the goods.)"