Colin's ready

With the opening of the Tampa Bay Lightning's training camp set for Thursday, I've spent just about every free moment getting ready for the first hounding trip of the year.

The first book of cards, filled to the gills, is erased, loaded with rookies and set up, as usual, in alphabetical order. Beyond the regular complement in my hounding bag, there's a fresh box of blue Sharpies and a half-dozen silver DecoColors in reserve. And I've started on my cheap skates and cheat sheet of Lightning rookies and other new faces.

Hell, my first count of hounding trips for the 2006-07 season tops 25, and that, my friends, is a wicked conservative estimate.

Colin, however, has taken far less time. After putting on his hockey equipment and slipping on the Patrice Bergeron jersey (photo, above, taken Sunday night) he received for his fifth birthday and pounding me into submission with a lengthy bout of hockey-roughhousing, he had one question: "How long before I get to see Patrice, Daddy?"

Not long, buddy, not long. October 7th, in Tampa, for the Bolts' home-opener. I've got the day off and we've had our tickets for two weeks now. Yeah, I'd say we're ready.

How about you?

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