The phone rang the other day and it was my father asking me if I wanted to go to the Flyers game on Wednesday. My immediate reaction was why would I want to go to a preseason hockey game? Get the hell out of here.
This gave the old man an opportunity to make fun of me for not knowing anything about sports. To my utter amazement, I was informed that the NHL season is upon us.
Hockey games that actually count in the standings began on Tuesday, while the Flyers open tonight at the Wells Fargo Center against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Don't take this ignorance as a shot at hockey. I have grown to love this game more and more each year. It is a good thing that it is back in our lives; I just cannot believe the season has arrived already.
Of course, there is a reason why Opening Night starts tonight. The NHL will take two weeks off during the middle of the season so its players can participate in this winter's Olympics.
The Flyers are hoping that break will come in the midst of a far more successful season than the orange and black endured a season ago. Philadelphia missed the playoffs for the first time in four years last season, but responded in typically aggressive fashion.
Philadelphia cut goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov during the offseason and signed big-name free agent Vinny Lecavalier. The 33-year-old forward was one of the more highly sought-after free agents in the league this summer and should help bolster a power play that had as much punch as a Mike Tyson knockout victim last season.
Replacing Bryzgalov will be the combination of Ray Emery and Steve Mason. Neither player was on the Flyers' Opening Day roster in 2012, but both enjoyed better-than-expected seasons.
Mason closed out his campaign strong after coming to Philadelphia as a midseason acquisition. Meanwhile Emery begins his second year of duty in the City of Brotherly Love. His first stint with the Flyers was derailed by injury issues. The goalie moved on to Chicago, where he went 17-1 as the Blackhawks' backup netminder.
Head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to officially name who will get the start tonight. He had better figure out who his guy is soon though. This is a critical year for the fiery Laviolette, whom many expected to get fired after last season's debacle.
I'm glad the Flyers brought him back, just like I was pleasantly surprised that hockey was set to return so soon. I'm hoping that emotion will continue; but one thing is certain. If the Flyers miss the playoffs for a second straight season (something that has not happened in two decades), Laviolette won't be back again.