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Sports Then and Now



Here Comes Hockey Season: Western Conference Preview 8

Posted on September 20, 2009 by Scott Weldon
It is almost time to start the annual quest for the Stanley Cup.

It is almost time to start the annual quest for the Stanley Cup.

The shortest off-season in professional sports is over. The NHL season is ready to begin again and most of the teams have made huge changes in an attempt to make the playoffs and challenge for the Stanley Cup in 2009-10. Here’s a quick look at the teams in the order they finished the regular season in their conferences and how I expect them to do this year and why.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. San Jose Sharks (5) – San Jose won the tough Pacific division and the President’s trophy as the leading team in NHL regular season last year. Then they were handled by a more talented eighth place Anaheim team losing their first round playoff series in six games.

San Jose has been an early season Stanley Cup favorite for years now and they started paying their players as if they’d already won a cup. As a result San Jose has huge cap problems this year. They had arguably the best defense in hockey last year giving up a league low 27.2 shots per game.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

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      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

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