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Thursday's notes: T-minus 50 days, and counting...

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The countdown timer (until the opening game of the season, at Columbus) in the left-hand sidebar of the main page is down to 50 days now! I know, that seems like forever, but hang in there.

By the time you get finished with this morning's hockey news, it'll be down to 49.99 days...

Hockey equipment sale offers 15% discount through August 31 | Hockey Gear HQ - news, reviews & deals
The new season is just around the corner, and one hockey equipment site has a discount code which you can use to save big.

Nashville Predators News

Hockey Night in Nashville: Nashville hopes to follow in footsteps of 2003-04 Lightning
All we need is that Jack Hillen-for-Martin St. Louis deal to go through, and we're all set!

Previewing the Predators’ forwards for 2011-12, part one… | Section 303
Jeremy starts off bold, predicting career-best numbers for all three members of his projected top line.

For Pete’s Take | Pull My (Fang)Finger
AJ dissects Brent Peterson's appearance on The Wake Up Zone to get a read on Nashville's chances to lock up the Big 3.

Banner Chances in Nashville this Season | The Predatorial
Kris sees the Preds as being right in the mix for the Central Division title.

The View from 111: Predators Continue Their Commitment to our Community
Mark celebrates the way the Predators Foundation keeps delivering the goods for Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

Smashville 24/7: 2011-12 Preview: Jonathon Blum
Blummer, dude.

Preds On The Glass: POTG Wednesday Headlines, News, and Links: R and D Camp Opens Today
Buddy kicked off yesterday's links with a note about the NHL's R&D Camp, and all the different rule tweaks they're testing.

From NHL 2K9 overall ratings, the worst players in the NHL - Puck Daddy
This is a bit of a flashback from 3 years ago, when Pekka Rinne was an afterthought in the video game rankings (a 60 overall!). Thanks to OTF reader Gray for passing this along.

2011-2012 AHL Season Schedule Primer | Admirals Roundtable
The AHL schedule is due to be released this afternoon, so Jason sets up some of the big questions facing Admirals fans.

Around the NHL

Bettman expects NHL to look at behavioural program after deaths - The Globe and Mail
After the recent deaths of Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard, the league may well review their behavioral health program.

Matt Bradley dishes on Capitals culture - Houses of the Hockey
Matt Bradley on Alex Semin: "he’s one guy who has so much talent, he could easily be the best player in the league, and just for whatever reason, just doesn’t care."

The Hansons could score |
Dynamite observation here on the role of fighters in hockey, and how it has changed over the decades.

Who Will Crash The NHL's Old Boys' Club? - The Copper & Blue
An outstanding look at the generally closed culture of hockey management, and the tentative steps a few organizations are taking to take a more rigorous, analytics-driven approach.

Changes to Power Play Rules Could Make Biggest Impact - NHL Hot Stove
So here's my question - if the league changes the rules to make power plays more of a factor, how will that impact the Preds, relative to the rest of the league?

Flyers invite Michael Nylander to training camp | Hockey Independent
He may be old and decrepit, but he's talented.

Oren Koules, ex-Tampa Bay owner, seeks NHL comeback - Puck Daddy
His situation with the Lightning became a comedy of errors, so we'll see if Koules can re-join the club.

Brophy on NHL: Coaches on the hot seat -
We're supposed to believe that a Jack Adams finalist who took his team to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final is walking on thin ice? I don't buy it.

On Frozen Blog › Not Everyone Can Live Off Ice Hockey
A nifty ad here for the United Nations' World Food Program, with a hockey twist.

OHL: Legendary Kilrea retires as 67′s GM; an appreciation - Buzzing The Net
One of the biggest names in Canadian junior hockey calls it a career.