The NHL regular season opened on Wednesday night with four games. We’ll have nine more on Thursday, and by the end of the weekend every team will have at least a couple of games under their belts.
This season will include all the usual intrigue – who’ll win the Cup, who’ll be MVP, who’ll by the feel-good underdog story and who’ll get themselves fired. But this year, there are a few more stories worth keeping an eye on. Here are five to watch as the season unfolds.
Subban v Weber
Wednesday 29 June 2016. It’s a date that hockey fans won’t soon forget. Mainly because it was the day that the NHL went completely insane.
Steven Stamkos spurned free agency to resign with the Lightning. The Oilers traded Taylor Hall to the Devils for, well, not much. And in the biggest shock of them all, the Canadiens sent PK Subban to the Predators for Shea Weber.
It’s hard to overstate how big the deal was. Weber was the franchise in Nashville, spending his entire career there as he developed from solid prospect to one of the most respected blueliners in the league. And Subban was a lightning rod in Montreal, a former Norris Trophy winner as the league’s best defenseman who also happens to double as one of the NHL’s most charismatic and entertaining personalities. Seeing either guy traded felt unfathomable; to see them swapped for each other in an old school one-for-one deal was jaw-dropping.
But it happened, and now we get to spend the next few years picking the deal apart to figure out who won. Did Weber just blast one of his patented slapshots through a net? Habs win! Oh, did Subban just go end-to-end? Advantage Predators. Every big hit, brutal giveaway, flashy smile (Subban) or steely-eyed grunt (Weber) will get tossed into the evidence bin for further analysis.
The two teams face each other twice during the season, in Nashville on 3 January and in Montreal on 2 March. But really, Weber and Subban will be facing each other every night this season, and every other season for the rest of their careers.