First Isles Game Of The Season Now Oct. 26th

The NHL recently canceled regular season games through Oct. 24th, thus pushing back the start date for many teams for the 2013 season. The Islanders have erased six games from their October schedule with the new opening game being set for Friday, October 26th against the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)

This would have been a marquee match-up ten years ago with every Islanders fan having this game circled on their calendars after a bloody, injury filled and violent playoff series with the Leafs in 2002. Those games were the start of the end for some players (Michael Peca) while the dawning of new beginnings for others (Trent Hunter). Steve Webb became a household name that still gets chanted at the Coliseum to this day, and no one will ever forget Eric Cairns' salute to the crowd after pummeling Shayne Corson at center Ice. 

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"We want Tucker!"
 

And of course, the collective "yeah" that came from the crowd when Shawn Bates rifled his wrister just under the crossbar on his game-winning penalty shot goal will still send chills up every Islanders fan spine, whether they witnessed it live or not. 

For me, game six of that series will always be remembered as one of the most exciting and intense hockey games that I have ever been too. It's amazing how some people forget how loud the old barn can get. The Madhouse on the Meadowbrook, when filled to the rafters, can be one heck of an exciting experience.
 

 
Despite all the goals and plays from this game, Webb's steamrolling hit over Darcy Tucker at 1:48 might be my favorite highlight.
 

But, as you can see, an early start to what might be a long drought of hockey has forced me to digress about games that took place ten years ago. The Maple Leafs game on the 26th won't hold the same value today as it did back then. Neither team has a player from those rosters and that rivalry has died significantly. 

In fact, with the way things are going, it still is a tentatitve schedule that might change again and again. Although both the NHLPA and the NHL are expected to resume talks by the end of this week, that's all it really has been; talk. Both sides are still far apart on financial issues and continue to take days to pick up from where they left off after previous negotations. 

The NHL would have opened up the regular season this Thursday had the first two weeks not been canceled. 

Unless things change drastically over the next two weeks, fans should probably expect games to be canceled into early November.

-Rob McGowan
F

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