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Believe it or not, the start of the NHL regular season is just about a week away. No, seriously, we're not kidding. We know the leaves haven't turned and summer doesn't actually end until today, but what the heck, it's been, what, at least three or four weeks since the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, right?

Then again, maybe that short offseason helps keep the NHL fresh in SportsNation's mind. A year ago, voters correctly predicted the Red Wings to win the Western Conference and made the Penguins their second choice, behind the Red Wings, to win it all.

Blackhawks star Patrick Kane and ESPN.com writer Scott Burnside stopped by chat Monday to help SportsNation get its ice legs before jetting off to Europe (Burnside to Stockholm for the Red Wings and Blues and Kane to Helsinki for the Blackhawks and Panthers).

Jason (Ellicott City, MD)

You are only rated an 86 in NHL. What is up with that?

Patrick Kane
c

I think an 86 is pretty good to be honest with you. I think the highest are Crosby and 94 and Ovechkin at 92. I thought I'd be better than Teows, but I am still on the cover. I got him by that. Full transcript

AJ (Champaign, Ill.)

How do the Blackhawks avoid a lull in their performance after they return from Finland?

Scott Burnside
c

AJ; Good question. The European experiment has been decidedly mixed in terms of how it affects teams. All four coaches who went last year got fired although the Pens did end up winning a Cup. I think the 'Hawks' youth and the nice steady hand of head coach Joel Quenneville will keep them from going off the rails when they get back from Finland. Full transcript

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Apparently it's Canada Day, albeit a week late, in SportsNation today.

Joe Sakic was pretty much the prototypical hockey star during his two decades in the NHL, which is probably why news of his retirement is getting such little attention south of the hockey border. After all, when Chad Ochocinco talks tweeting or Manny Ramirez gets ejected, why bother with Sakic? Maybe if he waited a few months and started dropping hints about a comeback with the Minnesota Wild ...

Sakic might not have been as much the face of a franchise as Jaromir Jagr or Steve Yzerman during the same era, but as some of the comments below suggest, even Red Wings fans liked the guy. And that's not something you hear a lot of Duke fans saying about Tyler Hansbrough or Colts fans saying about Tom Brady.

diablolucky13

One less wicked wrister in the NHL today. Hate the Avs, loved Joe Sakic. Thanks for the memories Joe. I will never forget a night against the Sharks when Joe had the puck in the corner, skated back and forth with the puck glued to his stick so quickly that he lost 3 defenders then fired a laser into the top far corner to score an eventual game winner. Absolutely ridiculous. Congrats Joe on a great career, 1st ballot HOF, number retired 1st game of next season if the Avs are smart.

-- DiabloLucky13
1_canuckgrl

awww Joe!! Burnaby Joe, as we liked to call him here in his hometown..:) nothing but huge respect for the man as a player and as a person, pure class alll the way.. we even named a street after him years ago, lol. hope Denver does the same!

-- 1_canuckgrl
yzerwingsfan19

Joe Sakic was a great player, leader, and sportsman. My other favorite number 19. Sad to see him go, but glad that it's on his own terms. Next stop, HOF. Thanks letting us watch you play the game Joe!

-- YzerWingsFan19
squigs24

As a Wings fan, I have a huge dislike for the Avs, but I could never bring myself to dislike Joe. Congrats on a great career and thanks for making the Wings/Avs rivalry so great.

-- squigs24

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