In this part of the world the leaves are nearly off the trees, and there is a chill in the night air even after a pleasant fall day. Summer is becoming a distant memory, and students are busy trying to get their bearings after starting a new semester or grade. After a long hiatus and lock out based mainly on player/owner greed professional hockey is back in town. I thought the fans might show their frustration by sitting out a few games, but the first Oilers game was a sell out. On the other hand the presence of professional hockey in a smaller market such as Edmonton is a big economic boom for many businesses, and arguably important to the community in that sense. As for me, professional hockey is something I can do without, although I will continue to take my uncle to the odd game since hockey is steeped into his blood. My uncle played it, coached it, and lived through the glory days of hockey before sound bites, steroids, million dollar trades, and ridiculous ticket prices. Hockey is a great game, but you don't need to see the professional version of it to enjoy a great spectacle. There are great amateur games around, but even there the lure of future professional contracts has corrupted some of the action. There have been games where there are more fights between parents in the stands than players on the ice, coaches heaping abuse on their own or competing players, and referees attacked all in the name of competition. Heck, I think I'll stick to playing a little shinny in the alley with a few buddies!