Good day from Minneapolis, where in 99 short days, training camp for the 2010-11 season commences (Sept. 17). It'll mark my 15th 16th season (my math is bad) covering the National Hockey League, including the looooonnnnnggggg lockout.

Actually I had fun during the lockout. Besides covering the NHL and Panthers, I covered the Heat (Shaq, D-Wade), Dolphins, Marlins, Nasdaq tennis tourney and Doral, which featured Tiger vs. Phil on the final day. Got to walk inside the ropes with that duo, which was a thrill.

To kill two birds with one stone, I covered an NHL-NHLPA CBA meeting in Toronto while doing a Heat-Raptors game at one point of the lockout. I thought it would be funny to use every hockey cliche imaginable in that Heat game story: Shaq stood on his head. Wade lit the lamp. Van Gundy didn't have last change, perhaps.

Strangely, that was my last Heat gamer.

If you follow me on Twitter and actually I think I mentioned it on a blog post the other day, you know this past weekend I basically went on a Marlins trip to Citi Field in Flushing, NY, and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. While hockey's my passion, I'm a baseball nutjob, and those are two great ballparks and some fun games to watch.


Considering I started working at the Sun-Sentinel at 16 years old, this is actually my 20th year in the biz, which explains why last week I looked in the mirror and ripped out my first gray hair. Of course, I delivered Newsday's when I was kid, so I suppose you can say I'm a newspaper lifer.

Before I get to the reason you arrived at this blog today, if you're an NHL fan on Twitter, you can find me at I also wanted to let you know that began a TweetMixx of NHL Insiders this past season. They've included a bunch of us on there, so if you want an easy way to find NHL news from those of us who cover the league on Twitter, the link is here.

OK, back to the topic at hand. I chatted with Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who was examined by Boston-based concussion specialist Robert Cantu on Monday. Bouchard said it was a good meeting in which if you had to put a number on it, it was determined he's about 85 percent back from the concussion that caused him to miss 81 games last season.

The good news: Bouchard's been given the green light to begin light workouts.

"He now wants me to start slowly working out, slowly everyday do a little bit more, but nothing that’s going to create more headaches or aggravate the symptoms, so I’m going to go really slowly for the next few weeks," said Bouchard.

He'll start going for little walks and getting on the exercise bike.

The best news is Cantu told Bouchard that while he's got to listen to his body, even if he feels a few symptoms, he can still get on the bike.

"I just needed a little gameplan," Bouchard said.

I'll have the full story in Friday's Star Tribune, but I did want to tell you that I asked Bouchard the question I get most from readers and Wild fans: Is there a chance Bouchard could just retire?

"Of course not. I haven’t thought about quitting playing hockey, no. Not once. ... The doc sounds pretty confident I should get back to normal. There’s a slight chance it might not, but he’s pretty confident and I’m positive too it’s going to come back.

"My goal is to be ready for training camp. I still have three months."

Also, I wanted to pass this article along from the Newark Star Ledger, but sadly, Jacques Lemaire's Florida home was damaged badly in a fire. A lot of hockey memorabilia was damaged in the fire.

Also, Andrew Brunette will be on FS North's pre-and-postgame show tonight during the Twins telecast, including the postgame on-field instructional. We'll see if Brunette protects the plate as well as he protects the puck. I hear he's good at bunting and screening the catcher.

Yuck! I'm no good at writing normally, but that was just bad. 

Before we go, here's Adam Burish on Chris Pronger, and he doesn't mince words. Couldn't agree more with Burish on the terrible part. Two biggest games of the year, and Pronger was "terrible." He couldn't slash and cross-check the Flyers to the Cup. Of course, at least Pronger played. Incidentally, since it's looking like the Wild won't have an enforcer next year (Boogaard likely can get more money and longer deal than the Wild can give on the open market), it will likely go the team toughness route. Burish, a free agent, might be a good affordable way to start.

Lastly, here's the official first-round draft order reflecting the Stanley Cup finish:

Round 1

1. Edmonton Oilers
2. Boston Bruins (from Toronto)
3. Florida Panthers
4. Columbus Blue Jackets
5. New York Islanders
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
7. Carolina Hurricanes
8. Atlanta Thrashers
9. Minnesota Wild
10. New York Rangers
11. Dallas Stars
12. Anaheim Ducks
13. Phoenix Coyotes (from Calgary)
14. St. Louis Blues
15. Boston Bruins
16. Ottawa Senators
17. Colorado Avalanche
18. Nashville Predators
19. Los Angeles Kings
20. Pittsburgh Penguins
21. Detroit Red Wings
22. Phoenix Coyotes
23. Buffalo Sabres
24. Atlanta Thrashers (from New Jersey)
25. Vancouver Canucks
26. Washington Capitals
27. Montreal Canadiens
28. San Jose Sharks
29. Anaheim Ducks (from Philadelphia)
30. Chicago Blackhawks

Have a great day folks!