Summer's officially under way, so of course we're thinking … hockey? Well, yes, considering the Cubs and White Sox have bored us to death much of the season and the Bears don't start training camp for another month. So it's the perfect time to break down the Blackhawks' 2012-13 schedule, which was released Thursday. Here are dates that stand out.
Oct. 20 vs. Detroit
The season kicks off Oct. 13, but we'll understand if you hit the snooze button until this collision with the archrival Red Wings. If you don't have a hockey pulse after that, consult your physician. That, or listen to Jim Cornelison sing the national anthem on repeat.
Nov. 5 vs. Pittsburgh
This is the only regular-season matchup against Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin (and ex-Hawk Steve Sullivan) and the high-powered Penguins. This could be very entertaining or very embarrassing, depending on how much the Hawks' goaltending improves.
Nov. 21 at Los Angeles
On one hand Hawks fans should thank the Kings for booting the hated Canucks, Blues and Coyotes from the postseason. On the other, L.A. did what the Hawks could not do: win the Stanley Cup as a No. 8 seed. We choose to dwell on the positive here.
Feb. 12 vs. Phoenix
Also known as Rip Raffi Torres Day. It actually will be the Coyotes' second visit to Chicago this season, but first he has to serve his 25-game suspension for eviscerating Marian Hossa in the playoffs. Torres might want to invest in some earplugs.
Feb. 24 vs. Vancouver
It amounts to torture to make Hawks fans wait so long to taunt Roberto Luongo, the Sedin brothers and the rest of the Canucks at the United Center. And who's Dave Bolland going to make fun of in interviews before then?
April 12 vs. St. Louis and April 13 at St. Louis
The Hawks close the season with two clashes with the defending Central Division champions; these games will have extra juice if similar stakes are involved. Or maybe the Hawks will be so far ahead in the race that they can rest key players. We can hope, can't we?