rocketFirst, I have some terrible news: my friend of more than a quarter-century, a man you know here as Rocket, has lost his mind. It was a slow build to this point, and many of us suspected it would end this way, but it doesn’t make it any less sad now that we’re at this point of no return. I have no official diagnosis or confirmation from anyone else. All I have is a two-part NHL guest post preview he wrote, the first of which is on the Eastern Conference, as evidence. He has done the body of the work in haiku form, as usual. The intro is in some sort of old-time detective fiction meets Office Space style, which is not really a style at all. I’ve cleaned it up a little in order to protect him and everyone.

Rocket, I’ll be thinking of you. In the mean time, here’s the preview:

———

It was a slow day. There had been a lot of those lately. To make matters worse, the summer heat was so bad that the hobos could cook eggs on the sidewalk. If things didn't change soon I was going to have pick up that skill myself.

I was cleaning my gat for the third time since I arrived at the office, hoping that this time would be the charm that changed my luck. I was out of excuses for the two months of back rent and I knew that if I didn't drum up some business quick the next visit from the landlord would be the last. I didn't dare look at the door because I could practically see a workman beginning to scrape, "Thorn Hammerrod, P.I." off of it.

I finished with the gat and was about to refile the paperwork again when I heard the sweetest sound I had heard in weeks – a knock at the door. I looked up and saw a shapely silhouette through the frosted glass. I knew the smell of trouble, and it smelled exactly like the silhouette's expensive perfume. My instincts told me that I should have told the silhouette that I wasn't available for her business, but I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth and I didn't have time to consult the dentist. "It's open," I yelled as nonchalantly as possible.

And then she opened the door. The moment I saw her somehow my heart turned to fire as my blood began to freeze. She was the kind of peach that could have just walked off of a movie set, even though she tried to hide it behind a thick set of poindexter glasses and an aggressive lack of makeup. "What do you mean, 'it's open'?" she asked. "You're sitting in a cubicle." This peach was more like a hot pepper. A habanero at minimum.

It was obvious that she was classy, not the type to be seen in the part of town. That meant that she was in the type of trouble that I didn't want to be mixed up in. But I had let her in the door, which meant that I was already in too deep. The only way out was going to be cracking the case. "What brings you to the wrong side of the tracks, Dollface?"

She rolled her eyes and heaved a heavy sigh. I suspected that she was playing me like a fiddle, but I needed the green and couldn't say no when she was the only client I had in weeks. Besides, I could tell I wasn't the first sucker who couldn't tell her "no" and I wouldn't be the last. "You know full well that my name is Debra. I work down the hall and we see each other every day. Why do we go through this every time? Can we get through just one conversation without you being so weird?" With a quick flick of a supple wrist, she flung a file on my desk.

I opened it up and pretended to look at it, but I never once took my eyes off of her. "What's this?"

She sighed again. "RandBall wants you to do another one of your stupid NHL preview posts. He says that even though it's a tired old trope you can even do them in your stupid haikus if you have to. Just put them in the order that you think the teams are going to finish in their division. And," she added, "can we just get through the rest of just one day without you being such a weirdo?"

I was pretending to listen, but all I really could do was stare at the lovely portrait of my impending doom. She was as pretty as a picture, but I was sure I was the one who was going to be hanging when it was all said and done. "Things don't come cheap in this line of work. My rate is fifteen dollars a day plus expenses."

Shedidn't even crack a smile. "RandBall says he'll pay you exactly what he pays you every year. Jack squat."

She had me and she knew it. There was no point in trying the run around. The only way I was going to save my own hide was to crack the case. "All right, sweetheart. You have yourself a deal."

"Whatever," she said as she turned on her shapeless canvas hightops. Somehow I got the feeling that the next time I saw her trouble wouldn't be far behind …Probably with HR again.

Atlantic

Tampa Bay Lightning

Nothing but talent

Future's bright, but there's just this

One nagging problem

Montreal Canadiens

You must love P.K.

And if you don't love P.K.

You are the problem

Detroit Red Wings

Like a bad movie

This team makes everyone ask

"Why won't you just die?!"

Florida Panthers

Kids love the retro

And I solemnly agree

When it comes to this

Ottawa Senators

Just treading water

The biggest off-season move?

Daniel Alfredsson

Boston Bruins

Lots of confusion

No one knows what they will be

Probably not good

Buffalo Sabres

Successful tanking

Leads to a second place prize

That your team would take

Toronto Maple Leafs

A team that gave up

Trades away its best player

Things don't look so good

Metropolitan

Pittsburgh Penguins

Even more offense?

That's great and everything but

Was it the problem?

Washington Capitals

An elite player

And now a sheep? Life's good for

Alex Ovechkin

New York Islanders

Are you prepared?

I mean really ready to

Be sick of this song?

New York Rangers

Save yourselves, people!

Do not look into his eyes!

You will not escape

Columbus Blue Jackets

Lots of injuries

A cannon that others hate

I just don't like this team

Philadelphia Flyers

Dave Hakstol will win

As many titles here as

At North Dakota

New Jersey Devils

Just tired and old

RandBall's T-Wolves predictions?

Yes, and this team too

Carolina Hurricanes

I'm a Caniac

That will be hard to admit

During this season

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