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Wednesday's notes: The Preds are back in town

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Yesterday marked the beginning of the informal practice sessions that draw most of the Nashville Predators together on the ice well in advance of training camp. While we can't get too excited about how well guys perform under these conditions, it's certainly great to know that competitive hockey isn't far off, now.

This morning's hockey notes include some notes on yesterday's session, the debut of a new Preds blog, and a new Predator ingratiating himself to this humble blog...

Nashville Predators News

Great site.. !!! - On The Forecheck Facebook Page
We've made it now, folks - the OTF Facebook Page got the Huggy Bear Seal of Approval! While you're over there, make sure to "Like" us.

Please Allow Me to Introduce Myself - PredGold
No, his name is not Humpty, but it's good to see Nolensville's hockey-blogging empire grow ever larger.

Hockey Night in Nashville: As success is achieved, expectations rise
Scratching and clawing their way into the playoffs and just feeling good about making it? That's not going to cut it any more with some folks.

Smashville 24/7: Rinne, Preds happy to get back on the ice
Ryan caught up with a very interested observer at yesterday's skate.

Wade Belak once a shootout whiz, midget coach says - StarPhoenix
People forget how much skill every single NHL player possesses, even the ones who just skate a couple minutes a game. Back in the 90's, Wade Belak was a 1st-round draft choice.

Summer Sit-Down With Coach Muller – Part I | Admirals Roundtable
Ryan talks with Kirk Muller about making the transition to Milwaukee, his priorities as head coach of the Admirals, and how likely it is that he'll advise a ref to have another doughnut.

2011 Nashville Predators Training Camp Opens Sept. 16 -
Here's the scheduling info for the full training camp, which was released yesterday.

Nashville Predators Ice Girls in Walton County -
The Ice Girls are hitting the beach for a photoshoot that will lead to this year's calendar, and here's a video from the Preds' site:

Around the NHL

Derek Boogaard: A killer addiction |
The pressure to get back in the lineup at all costs makes for a pretty serious risk for hockey players (and other pro athletes, I'd guess) to become addicted to pain killers.

Concussions and depression: Yes, Virginia, there IS a connection. " Puck, that hurts!
Yes there is, but so far, all we know is that depression was tied to one player death this summer, Rick Rypien's. Until we hear more, I'm not comfortable yet saying that Wade Belak's death was caused by it.

On Frozen Blog › Washington Examiner: Caps’ Party Culture Hasn’t Had Its Last Call
So... the Capitals aren't supposed to go out and party here in early September because they had a disappointing playoff last spring? Sorry, I'm not buying it.

Leafs’ optimism mingles with sense of urgency - The Globe and Mail
You know, Tim Connolly was an outstanding pickup for Toronto, and they should be in the hunt for a playoff spot this spring.

Quebec City’s dream of an arena a step closer - The Globe and Mail
They're still a long ways from putting shovels in the ground, but it looks like the city has hammered out an agreement with a media company to operate an arena if, by some stroke of luck, they were able to acquire an NHL team.

The Neutral Zone Trap & the New Jersey Devils - In Lou We Trust
Try not to fall asleep by the end! Just kidding, this is a great history lesson for hockey fans everywhere.

Ovechkin teams up with Bauer - Capitals Insider - The Washington Post
In a nice add-on to his new sponsorship deal, Alex Ovechkin donated 108 sets of hockey equipment each to kids programs in both the US and Russia.

Cullen: Ovechkin the pick to lead scoring race in 2011-2012 - TSN
Well, he's one of the keepers I'm holding onto in my primary fantasy hockey league, so he'd better bounce back!

Nieuwendyk selects Gulutzan as Stars head coach - View From My Seats
There's a new sheriff in Dallas this season...

Ottawa Senators blog roundtable: Paul MacLean - Silver Seven
...and in Ottawa, too...

Yashin still without a club - Kontinental Hockey League - Official Website
Alexei Yashin is still in New York, and time is getting short; will he return to the NHL, or KHL?