The NHL regular season begins in just under a month, and it will bring with it a great many twist, turns, and tales. But if, like me, you're far too impatient to let the future come to you naturally -- if you absolutely need to know right now what we'll be covering in the early stages of the 2011-12 NHL regular season, here are 20 storylines that will no doubt get a lot of play over the next few months.
1. Someone will ask Jarome Iginla, "Who was the best centre you ever played with?" and he'll just burst into tears.
2. As a sign of good faith, Brendan Shanahan will announce that, on top of video explanations for every suspension he doles out, Tyler Dellow will be cc'ed on every e-mail.
3. After the Sabres get off to a slow start, Terry Pegula will replace Darcy Regier with his three nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, before going for a swim in his money bin.
4. Just prior to a faceoff in a game versus the Edmonton Oilers, Daniel and Henrik Sedin will get into a loud argument over which trophy means more, the Hart or the Lindsay. As it escalates into a fistfight and everyone gathers to watch, Henrik will suddenly flip the puck fifteen feet into the air, and Alex Burrows will catch it at the blueline, drop it, and score on a breakaway. While everyone marvels at another brilliant Sedin set play, the most impressive aspect comes when it works again later in the same game.
5. Two days after returning to the Islanders lineup, Rick DiPietro will break his hand while furiously hitting the X button trying to exact revenge on Brent Johnson in NHL 12.
6. Dan Carcillo will follow in the footsteps of Sean Avery, throwing his support behind a current and controversial issue by appearing in a PSA for giving women the vote.
7. Despite being glaringly obvious to everybody that it isn't working in Phoenix, the Glendale city council will vote 5-2 in favour of letting Jason LaBarbera stay the number one goalie.
8. Corey Perry will lead the league in penalty minutes after opponents discover that it's easy to goad him into a major penalty if you line up next to him and say, "I voted for Daniel Sedin, because you're a dick."
9. In an attempt to reach out to Winnipeg's middle class, the former Atlanta Thrashers will acquire 20% of the NHL's Mennonite players by acquiring Robyn and Richie Regehr.
10. The Red Wings will be mired in controversy when a sudden burst of electromagnetic radiation over Detroit puts Nicklas Lidstrom offline for five games. People get suspicious when his reported "upper body injury" turns out to be a strained electrolytic capacitor.
11. The Panthers will continue to be bad after GM Dale Tallon discovers all those free agents just wanted to come to Florida for the quality outdoor living. Meanwhile, in Tampa Bay, innovative coach/Bond villain Guy Boucher will handle the same problem by blocking out the sun.
12. Anthony Stewart will be forced to delete his Twitter account after the Carolina Hurricanes loan him to Jan Bulis's KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk, and the Russian fans give him Hell for all his anti-Bulis tweets.
13. Bruce Boudreau will be suddenly and mysteriously moved to Philadelphia. Rumours of something called "fry island" will surface.
14. After finding two more first round picks under the passenger seat of his car, Brian Burke will use them to acquire Brad Marchand from the Bruins.
15. A confused Vancouver Canucks fan will turn himself into the authorities for vandalism, but not for the riots. Instead, he'll admit that, all through the Final, he had been letting the air out of Tim Thomas's tires in an attempt to make him miss the games. When asked why Thomas never complained, the fan will scratch his head and say, "Someone kept pumping them back up."
16. Three weeks into the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets will realize that spending a lot of money on defense is not the same thing as having good defense.
17. The city of Philadelphia will discover that their remarkable network of parks make it pretty much impossible to get Ilya Bryzgalov to come inside for practice.
18. Sidney Crosby will return to the Penguins lineup wearing a gigantic new helmet called The Trojan Gretzky. No one will quite realize what it does until Dave Steckel tries to hit Crosby with a high elbow, only to have a miniature Marty McSorley and Dave Semenko jump out of the helmet and beat the tar out of him.
19. After stating that he acquired Erik Cole to take the pressure off Scott Gomez, Pierre Gauthier will clarify that he means in terms of criticism over the league's worst contract.
20. Always searching for a better way to keep his freakishly immense body hydrated, Zdeno Chara will come out from the tunnel one night looking like this:
Harrison Mooney is also the co-founder of the Canucks blog, Pass it to Bulis.