ALSO THIS MONTH
MARC CIAMPA, a native of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada is the staff sports writer for Renaissance Online Magazine. A student at the University of Alberta, Ciampa is the public relations coordinator for the St. Albert Saints and writes a weekly article in the Edmonton Sun on junior hockey during the winter. During the summer he runs the official Calgary Cannons website.
Sharks, Panthers expected to make greatest strides as NHL clock strikes 2000
October is rolling around and once again a new NHL season is upon us. With a new NHL season comes new hope for each and every one of the league's 28 teams. Until the puck drops for real, every team has reason to be optimistic about their prospects heading into the new year - and why wouldn't they be? Every team in the entire league is tied for first overall (yes, even the Islanders and Lightning).
Throughout the entire 1999-2000 season there will be memories created, rookies playing their first shift, veterans playing their last shift. Awe-inspiring highlight reel goals will be scored (and those which are scored with a skate lace in the crease will count), hearts will be broken as teams are eliminated from contention down the stretch, jobs will be lost - on average five or six by this time next year - and young teams will begin to come together while old teams start to fall apart.
However, no matter the memories that the millennium's first season brings, nothing will be more memorable than an event that happens before a single puck is dropped on this season. On October 1st, the greatest player to ever lace up skates will have his number 99 retired where his career began, flourished and where he set the majority of his 60-some NHL records. It was also the place where he celebrated each and every one of his Stanley Cup victories. Outside what was formerly known as Northlands Coliseum in Edmonton (modern-day economics have forced it to grace the less storied name of "Skyreach Centre") there stands a statue of The Great One and leading up to the rink is a street that bears his name, Wayne Gretzky Drive.
Nevertheless, after Gretzky's number has been retired the show must go on. It all starts with the Oilers and the Rangers on that night but where will it end? The following, in predicted order of finish, is a team-by-team capsule with the clubs listed by conference:
[ MORE: Eastern Conference ]