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After a seemingly interminable offseason laced with the bitter aftertaste of the Sharks' lowest standings berth and quickest playoff exit in nearly a decade, the wait is finally over. The regular season may still be a fortnight away but the joyous spectacle of training camp, the pure anticipation fostered by NHL arenas across the continent being once again abuzz with live hockey and the glorious innocence of exhibition play is upon us. The beauty of September is in the infinite possibilities it presents; at this time of year, even fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets are optimistic about their team's prospects for the coming year. Every rookie that laces up the skates in a preseason game is going to be the franchise's next hero, every veteran coming off a disappointing campaign is primed for a rebound and every not-quite-established youngster is set to break out over the six-plus months of unadulterated hockey euphoria that awaits us.
The journey begins tonight as the boys in teal travel to British Columbia to take on a league powerhouse and bitter rival in the Vancouver Canucks. Will former University of Minnesota-Duluth star and Sharks free agent signing Travis Oleksuk make a statement that he deserves season-opening roster consideration in his first game on NHL ice? Will Nick Petrecki prove the critics wrong and turn in a dominant performance in all three zones? Will Roberto Luongo be wearing a Florida Panthers sweater in net? These questions and more will be answered as the Sharks take on the Canucks at 7:00 PM tonight in Rogers Arena. Let's take a trip up to that building to soak in the atmosphere ahead of puck drop.
Oh. Right. As you were.