IT'S ALMOST HOCKEY SEASON
Hope you enjoyed your summer.
I walked out of the Daily Times building last night and felt a chill in the air for the first time since April.
And while most people in this town would remind me that it's a sign that football season is here - and after the Eagles dismantling of the Rams, who can blame them for that excitement - I need to remind them that it also the dawn of another hockey season.
And the Flyers should be an interesting team.
I'm not going to jump on board the bandwagon that was a dramatic run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. It was a pleasant surprise for Flyers fans, but I'm not certain that it will be repeated.
That doesn't mean the Flyers aren't a talented team. It just means, that I'm uncertain they filled the holes they needed to fill in the offseason to take that next step.
Losing R.J. Umberger was pretty big, especially because neither Glen Metropolit nor Aaron Asham will fill his often overlooked void. But, getting Simon Gagne back healthy - and the Flyers hope he stays that way - will be huge.
However, I'm still not sold on the defense beyond Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn.
Ryan Parent looks like he'll be a quality blue liner, and Randy Jones is better than I ever thought he'd be, but the new guys don't excite.
Ossi Vaananen was playing in Europe last season. Steve Eminger was a healthy scratch for 60 games and Bryan Berard is not the same player he once was.
They'll be replacing Jason Smith, Derian Hatcher and whoever filled in as the sixth defenseman last season.
While there is more skating ability there, it's missing a lot of the grit and veteran presence that made Hatcher and Smith so valuable down the stretch and in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how they gel.
Training camp begins next Saturday - the last day of my vacation, so Rob Parent will update you on Day 1, but I'll be back with the boys on Sunday and the rest of the year as well.
We have some new ideas and new features that we are going to offer you here on Delcotimes.com as far hockey coverage is concerned, so stay with us all season, because no one will cover the Flyers the way we will in 2008-09.
And just as a tease ... I'm going to catch up with the boys tomorrow (Friday) over at Skate Zone and will give you a feel for their expectations in blog form tomorrow night. So check back.
I'm looking forward to a fun year with you all. Hopefully you will be too.