Why am I smiling? One word: hockey.

Hockey is back! Hockey is back!

Can you tell I'm excited about hockey coming back?

A lot of people know I'm a huge Montreal Canadiens fan, and thus like a lot of other NHL fans I'm thrilled that the lockout has been resolved and the season is finally underway. It's the winter time. It's cold in Canada. We need hockey, because what else are we going to do?

We weren't completely without hockey during the lockout, actually. There was the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships that took place at the end of December and beginning of January. But that was a little disappointing, too, as Canada finished fourth after losing the bronze medal match to Russia. It was the first time since the late 1990s that Canada didn't medal. The U.S. won the gold.


I played hockey growing up, and in fact I still do when I can. So I'm a diehard fan, and these lockouts are always difficult. We all remember the 2004-05 season being completely wiped out because of a lockout, and it really looked like that was going to happen this year, too. It took like four months for both sides to come to an agreement, which was complete nonsense because obviously both parties lost a lot of money as a result. I think in the end it came down to a battle of egos and not losing face.

In some ways, the lockout and inability to come to terms kind of reminds me a little of how poker players have to come to an agreement about rules and etiquette in order for the game to proceed. Without some compromise and agreement between the competitors, it's just chaos, and the game can't proceed.

But at least they got a deal done. From a fan's perspective, the shorter 48-game season should be a lot of fun since there will be more games per week, and each regular season game will mean more in terms of the standings and making the playoffs. It'll be a lot like what the NBA had last year with their shorter season -- like everyone will be in playoff mode from the very start.

I usually go to Canadiens games about 10 times a year, wearing my jersey and supporting the team. I know some of the guys, too, so it's always fun to see them play. Of course, Montreal had a rough season last year -- we finished at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, which was pretty bad -- but we do have a really good new prospect, Alex Galchenyuk, who we drafted third overall. He's only 18 years old, so it's hard to know yet what he'll bring to the team, but we're hoping he turns out to be something special.

We have a lot of good players, actually, and definitely should be able to finish higher in the standings this time. The most important thing, however, is that we finish above the Toronto Maple Leafs! (Sorry Daniel, haha.)

Jonathan Duhamel
@PokerStars in PokerStars news