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    I can hear the brassy intro in my head. Bah-bah bah bah Bah bah buh-buh-buh, and then the hook. “It’s the final countdown” rings in my ears.

    Here we are with the 2008-09 NHL season fast approaching and the 1986 hit by the hair band Europe comes into my head.

    As the Leafs shuffle line-ups and ship players to the Marlies and back to their junior teams, the sense of excitement grows with each passing day.

    I was under the weather most of last week, and also nursing a badly bruised and cut nose from an errant hockey stick in my beer league, so I missed out on Leaf-watching for the most part. Not having Leafs TV also doesn’t help. I do have Sportsnet so I’m hoping that between that and HNIC on Saturday nights, I will get my fix on a regular basis.

    From what I’ve read in the media and also on this site, and the little I’ve seen so far, it looks like Ian White may be the odd man out on “D”.

    I recently read an article by Damien Cox , who said that the Leafs defence will be among the five worst in the league. I beg to differ. I think people will be pleasantly surprised by the D group. Finger seems to be solid, and Coli is healthy and showing signs of being a dominant defender. Schenn has not looked out of place. I have not seen Frogren play yet. Kubina and Kaberle are above reproach, in my opinion.

    Up front, it looks like Mitchell is getting an extra long look, deservedly so, but who does he displace? Devereaux? Moore? Poni?

    I have been a fan of Moore since his arrival in Leafland and his play so far has done nothing to sway me from my opinion. He may just surprise and become a late-blooming premier penalty killer in this league. Devereaux is just one of those character guys you’d like to keep around.

    Poni, from most reports, has been a disappointment so far in pre-season. I’ve never been a big Poni fan, but sometimes he is brilliant. Antropov has always made him look better, in my opinion.

    Throw in Grabovski and Hagman, Mayers and the energy of Hollweg and this could be fun.

    So, with the final countdown upon us, how excited are you?

    Does the fact that this is a rebuilding year tone down your excitement or kick it up a notch?

    For me, it’s a case of being sold a bill of goods by the same group for the past three or four years, and this year seeing the fresh new faces and the renewed optimism for the future, that has me ready and rarin’ to go.

    Alec Brownscombe is the founder of, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]