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Thursday's notes: At long last, the puck drops in Smashville

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It's time to launch another season of hockey at Bridgestone Arena with the home opener tonight against Phoenix, with a host of activities getting started at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon (full details here). I think we've got enough NHL articles to keep you occupied right up until then, so strap yourself in!

While reading this morning, give a listen as Pete Weber joined Hockey This Morning to talk all things Preds:

Pete Weber on HTM 20111012 (mp3)

And now, your hockey news & notes...

Nashville Predators News

The View from 111: The Ekholm Diaries: Training Camp
More personal updates as we follow Mattias Ekholm's journey through Training Camp - truly interesting, unique stuff here!

For Geoffrion, Home Opener is a "Dream Come True" |
This should be a big night for Boomer.

Pred White and Blue: Getting to Know: The Phoenix Coyotes
What's that you say, you don't know anything about the Coyotes? Here's a basic primer.

Chet Pickard Assigned To Cincy | Admirals Roundtable
Is Chet Pickard on his way to be another "here's why you don't take goalies in the 1st round" story? 

Craig Smith’s success in USHL caught eye of Predators - Nashville Predators Examiner
Jim Diamond writes that Smith's real launching pad was his junior hockey experience in Waterloo.

Predators rookie Craig Smith looks like he belongs –
Kevin Allen jumped on the Craig Smith bandwagon back in the summer, and checks in with an update.

Craig Smith trying to force Nashville to adopt a Wisconsin tradition… | Section 303
A fresh suggestion for the Game Operations crew at Bridgestone Arena.

Legwand not opposed to scoring late goals into empty nets | Nashville City Paper
Hey, I want guys eager to score empty-netters; the most frustrating thing to see is when a guy has an opportunity, and opts to pass the puck instead.

Mike Fisher gets physical but isn't ready to return - The Tennessean
Injury updates aplenty... No Fish, no Erat, probably no Hornqvist tonight.

Nashville Predators go cheapskate route to build team - The Tennessean
Remember, folks, Josh Cooper doesn't write the headlines.

Success is numbers game for Preds CEO - The Tennessean
Nashville's biggest free agent pickup of the last few years may have been Jeff Cogen.

A good start, and a good friend - Predators Insider
A new year brings new responsibilities for Jonathon Blum...

Around the Wide Wide World of Hockey

Bob McKenzie thoroughly breaks down the whole divisional realignment issue as it's being discussed within NHL circles. It's a long read, but worth the time, even though it will trigger an avalanche of "how I'd realign the league" posts from hockey blogs all over, and you know how crazy I am about those.

79 wins left: Flyers hold off Canucks, 5-4, despite 4 billion penalties, 5 billion shots against - Broad Street Hockey
Beating last year's Presidents Trophy winner is a confidence builder.

Canes Break Through: Hurricanes 3, Bruins 2 - Canes Country
Carolina got their first win...

Game 3 Recap: Colorado Avalanche 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2 (SO) - Mile High Hockey
Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog (their 1st round draft pick this summer) scored his first career NHL goal in this one.

Stars acquire Eric Nystrom from Wild for future considerations; Tomas Vincour assigned to minors - The Dallas Morning News
Ah, how bizarre things get in a salary cap environment! Rather than claim Nystrom off re-entry waivers and pay only half his salary, the Stars work out a trade with Minnesota, so they can pay his full $1.4 million wage and creep above the salary floor.

Frustrated Franson grows tired of waiting - National Post
It sounds like Fruit Cup is turning sour...

Early Observations - The Cannon
Mike sees a few encouraging signs in the Blue Jackets' winless start.

The stupidity of possibly suing Don Cherry - Backhand Shelf
Yes, the lawsuit talk is silly, only serving to drag out this sorry media cycle.

A Theory of Ice: The Charm of the Shootout, First Analysis
A shootout is like a big bowl of ice cream? Why, I guess it is...

Puck Pursuit and Angles - Part 1 - The Copper & Blue
Really good stuff here, that applies to someone watching an NHL game or your average beer-leaguer huffing & puffing out there on the ice.

QMJHL: Kabanov might play in Sweden - Buzzing The Net
Well, this is unusual; the Islanders' draft pick may head from Canadian junior to the Swedish Elite League.

Isles 3rd Jersey Leaks Again - Blog -
Woof, that thing is lame!

How Much do Wins Cost? - Arctic Ice Hockey
An explanation of what stats analysts mean when they compare a player's salary to how many wins they expect him to produce.

Brodeur is a Fraud: Desire and Success
A bitter pill for some folks to swallow.

Video: New Jonathan Cheechoo Song redefines awesome - Puck Daddy
Um... this is... well... interesting and strange and hilarious, and... just watch it, trust me.

NHL: The Movie! - Battle of California
RK's swinging from the heels with this one. 

And lastly, let's hear from the esteemed fellows of Down Goes Brown: