first_imgIt’s been a long time coming, but professional hockey is finally back in the United States. Yzerman, Iginla, Heatley, Vokoun — oh my! After a yearlong lockout, teams will be back on the ice for the start of the 2005-2006 season starting Wednesday. Fresh faces and new regulations will highlight this upcoming season. Goalie gear is smaller, games will be longer and hockey will now be in season on the Outdoor Life Network.So if you haven’t been as excited about the upcoming season, here is a small list to bring out your inner hockey fever.Sayonara tied games: Say bah-bye to ties! The NHL has decided that all games contested will end with a victor. In an effort to entertain fans, teams will play an additional five minutes of four-on-four sudden death overtime.If the game is still in a deadlock, a shootout will proceed in which three players on each team will alternate penalty shots. Each shooter will only receive one shot. If there is still a tie, the shootout will advance to a sudden death format. No player who participated in the original shootout may attempt a second shot until every other eligible play on the team has taken a shot.Still tied? If the sudden death shootout contest ends in a draw, additional rounds will be conducted until a winner is decided.Bottom line: Hockey fanatics will turn into insomniacs.The student becomes the teacher: Wayne Gretzky, one of the greatest hockey players of all time, has taken over as the new bench boss for the Phoenix Coyotes. The Great One will have his work cut out for him, as the Coyotes only posted 22 wins during the 2003-2004 season.”I heard people say ‘Why would you want to do this?’ And my answer was ‘Why not?’ It’s what I love. It’s what I know,” Gretzky said in a press conference.The Coyotes look much different than they did a year ago, thanks in part to Gretzky’s hefty influx of new talent.Making their team debuts this season will be Brett Hull, Curtis Joseph, Petr Nedved, Mike Ricci, Mike Leclerc, Sean O’Donnell, Boyd Devereaux, Denis Gauthier and Oleg Saprykin.”We added some speed, some character, and some talent,” Gretzky said. “Yes, I’m tremendously excited to be part of this group. I really look forward to sharing my knowledge of the sport and the game. I don’t have to sit up top and watch. I can actually be on the ice, that’s the part I’m looking forward to the most.”Bottom line: The ice will no longer be cool in Phoenix.The next Great One: Sidney Crosby, dubbed the best player since Mario Lemieux (the most dominant scorer in NHL history) by Wayne Gretzky, will make his hockey debut for the Pittsburgh Penguins this season. The 18-year-old from Nova Scotia will attempt to reinvigorate the Penguins after their last place finish in 2004.Two years ago, the Penguins averaged an attendance of 11,877-the worst in the league. Upon Crosby’s arrival, the Penguins have already sold more tickets than they did for all of the 2003-04 season.Pittsburgh was able to acquire Crosby during the lockout when the league decided to hold a draft lottery that included every franchise. The Penguins’ poor performance during the ’03-’04 season helped them to the No. 1 pick and a higher volume of ticket sales.Bottom line: Crosby will bring to hockey what LeBron James has brought to basketball.New places for new faces: The NHL lockout sent players scampering to new teams. Over a quarter of the league’s players were traded. Here is a brief look at some of the transactions.The Nashville Predators already look better after acquiring Paul Kariya from the Colorado Avalanche. The Preds also inked defenseman Danny Markov and center Yanic Perreault.The New York Rangers have a completely new team. The Rangers signed eight new starters. Center Martin Straka from the Los Angeles Kings highlights the list, him and Marek Malik, from the Vancouver Canucks will pair up with Czech star Jarmir Jagr to help rebuild the struggling team. The Rangers also picked up Martin Rucinsky, Ville Nieminen, Michael Nylander, Steve Rucchin, Blair Betts and Kevin Weekes.The Philadelphia Flyers picked up the better end of all their transactions. With ’02-’03 Hart Trophy winner Peter Forsberg highlighting the new class, Flyers faithful should anticipate an exciting season. The flyers also added Mike Knuble, Turner Stevenson, Mike Rathje, Derian Hatcher and Jon Sim.The San Jose Sharks is the only team without a new trade in their starting lineup. But who needs to acquire new players when you have center Patrick Marleau? However, two rookies will grace the ice for the Sharks. Left wing Milan Michalek and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff will help add to the team’s depth.Bottom line: More offense equals more work for goalies.last_img read more