By Ric Duarte, CBSBoston

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s getting near that time of year.

You know, when the leaves start turning color. Summer has left us and we have jackets, hats, gloves, and, perish the thought, snow shovels at the ready. The Patriots have just begun their season and Bruins training camp is in full swing with the season opener just days away.

Huh, what….??? We’ve already had our first snow? Christmas and New Year’s have been celebrated?? That can’t be right. My Boston Bruins schedule says the first game is Saturday night against the New York Rangers! Have I been in some kind of time warp?

What the heck has happened since Joel Ward scored in overtime of Game 7 in the opening round of the playoffs, sending the Bruins home for the summer?


Oh yeah, I put myself into a self-imposed blackout of all things hockey when the morons that supposedly run our sport decided that playing hockey was not all that important, but their greed was.

Since more than a week has passed and the NHL has less than a week to try to get into midseason form, it’s time for the media and fans to get into shape, not to mention the NHL PR machine. And it appears that has happened.

The Bruins offered free tickets to a Black & Gold Scrimmage for Tuesday night, and those ducats were gone faster than a Tyler Seguin breakaway. In their quest to say they’re sorry to the fans, the Bruins and the NHL have discounted merchandise and concessions for the month of January. The NHL Center Ice television package and Game Center price has been reduced by 40 percent for the entire “season” to try to appease all for their transgressions of the past three-plus months.

But now it’s time to drop the puck, and sprint to the finish line in 48 games. And you know what? We puckheads really don’t care. We care about the fact that owners and players used us as pawns, while knowing all along that they would resolve this when the league wouldn’t lose money. We care about the fact that on Saturday nights when all was quiet with the family, whether it be the Bruins or Hockey Night in Canada on the NHL Network, we had no hockey to watch.

So, Saturday night, 7 p.m. at the TD Garden, our long international nightmare is over. We forgive and forget that punch in the gut that Gary Bettman et al gave us the last quarter of 2012. We grab our foam bear claws, our ’72 Esposito Jersey, last year’s Black Friday T-shirts and go back to cheering on the Boston Bruins.

Why? Because NHL Hockey is simply the greatest sport on the planet and really, I can’t wait!

Ric Duarte has covered hockey and the Bruins for various media outlets since 1986. You can follow Ric at and at twitter @bruins_diehard.


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