Loaded for bear for No. 1,072

The star-studded Ottawa Senators are in town this weekend, and seeing that I haven't hounded them in more than a year, I'll be carrying a heavy bag -- 17 pucks and more than 70 cards. Granted, I doubt I'll get everything signed, but I can't be accused of being ill-prepared.

Work schedule permitting, and conditions are extremely favorable, I'll probably go out for a couple hours tonight. If not, though, there's always game time on Sunday.

Either way. I hoping to score my 1,072 autographed puck this weekend. If you don't know the significance of that number, visit a hockey history Web site, look up Wayne Gretzky and, if you're able, do some math.

With any luck, and a little cherry-picking, I'm hoping the milestone puck will come from Jason Spezza. He signed the 500th puck (the Belleville Bulls puck, on far right) of the collection. Given the subpar start to the Senators' season, I'm hoping he'll be in a generous mood. I'll have two of the three pucks (Grand Rapid Griffins and Brampton Battalion; I'm waiting on a Mississauga Ice Dogs puck) I need to complete my Spezza collection.

In all honesty, with pucks for such Senators stars as Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, Andrej Meszaros and Wade Redden, I'll be happy with whomever I get. Just as long as it isn't Cup-winner Martin Gerber or tough guy Brian McGrattan.

At first I was going to stop at 1,072, but with nearly three-quarters of the season remaining, and a ton of West Coast teams (Anaheim, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Dallas) coming to Tampa before early April, I'm setting my sights on 1,200 autographed pucks by season's end.

Now, if for some reason I fall short with the Senators (hey, it could happen), I'll be hounding the Lightning (I picked up some University of Vermont pucks for Martin St. Louis and Eric Perrin) and the Washington Capitals on Monday.

Either way, it's going to happen soon. I just don't know who and I don't know when. But, it will happen. And that, my friends, is a promise.

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