Here it begins

A lot of my favorite songs, weirdly, have some kind of anxiety component to them*. A kind of a separation anxiety, I guess.

“I Fought the Law.” I miss my baby, and-a good… fun. (That’s what Sonny wrote, but is it what Bobby sang? Depends on your version.)

“Louie Louie.” She’s across the darn sea! Just listen to the drummer get upset about it.

“Here Comes My Baby.” Yeah, with somebody else. No wonder Cat’s a little quirky.

“Five O’Clock World.” Don’t we all live for the end of the day.

“Please Please Me.” Well, OK; that’s a different kind of anxiety, I guess.

In an odd way, I get something similar during the summer.

Yeah, this is a job, like any other; give me 22 minutes, I’ll give you a world of what drives me nuts about it. (Eventually, I’ll share a classic Leonard Koppett quote.)

But know what? This silly little game is in my blood, been there long before I understood it.

April 17 came around this spring, and everyone packed up and went home. And even though it was only a week longer than the one before it, even though there was always plenty to do, even though the baseball team I root for (shh! don’t tell anyone) kept itself in it until recently… this summer seemed interminable.

It took me until June to realize why: no NHL. Every spring, you get home from work, you flip on the TV, and you watch whoever’s on, and if you’re lucky, it goes two overtimes and you just revel in it. (Because you’re not sweating deadline and don’t have to write it, that’s why. As long as I’m teasing an uncertain future: Someday, I’ll tell you my June 3, 2002, story.) You watch them pound each other’s heads in and then shake hands and pat shoulders at the end, all for a chance to hold up some old piece of silver.

We all missed it last spring, a chance to see if John Tortorella’s Lightning could stay on top, if the Flames could keep up the momentum, what Jacques Lemaire would continue to do with the Wild, if the Leafs were too old, whether this would finally be the Senators’ year because darn if they weren’t fun to watch, if the Devils would be the Grand Army of the Hackensack as always.

But we didn’t get to find out. Blame whomever you want for that and for the chaos of this summer, but thank goodness, it’s in the past (and won’t pop up again for a few years).

Tonight, Uniondale, New York Rangers at New York Islanders (exhibition), 7:05.

Funky lines (both painted and coach-assembled), obstruction crackdown No. 742, the darned shootout one way or another…

Bring it on. Summer’s over. Here it begins, and not soon enough.

(*-You may also notice… the top two also contain the clearest enunciations of a certain obscenity that you’ll ever hear on the radio. I swear this is a coincidence.)

Michael Fornabaio