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Confession time. Probably should admit that my absolutely favorite sport is staying on the front edge of whatever new technology Apple gifts the universe. The newer, the more out of the box the concept, the better.

QuickTake Camera

Got a collection of Apple relics that could create a nice display… digital camera from early-90’s, the Newton, every generation of iPod since the very first model. Friends scoffed—who was going to pay $.99 per song when you could get them for free on Napster? Stood in line for the very first iPhone on the day before we were going on vacation in 2007…at 7:00 p.m. got the very last iPhone in stock. Again, friends scoffed. What idiot pays that much for a phone? Just smiled. Steve Jobs had provided a glimpse of the future, and definitely in for the ride.

Original iPod 2001

So, it’s now a sport for thousands—shall we say millions—to get the latest and most innovative technology on Release Day. iMacs, MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, iPads, iPhones… even though economics has forced us to stagger our upgrades of iDevices since the iPhone 3GS release. We still get every generation—we just take turns owning the latest model.

My year to upgrade, so last Friday patiently awaited the delivery of the iPhone 5 (actually did order at 3:03 a.m. EST September 14), writing this post with one eye on the window for that delivery truck.

ECHL Affiliate of Phoenix Coyotes

When the Thrashers ditched Atlanta last year for the Great White North last year, we began supporting our local ECHL team, the Gwinnett Gladiators. Couldn’t beat the price, location, free parking, and a great arena. It’s fun watching the developing new pros; they play with an intensity reminiscent of college basketball. Also quickly learned not to get too attached to any particular player—the good ones move on to the AHL and then the NHL. Others are reassigned at will by their NHL team to other ECHL affiliates. Still learning the nuances of this level of professional hockey.

When The Lockout began September 15, we assumed the Gladiator’s season was similarly affected as an affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes. So much for our second-row-on-the-corner season tickets. Hockey would again leave Metro Atlanta teamless.

Not so. Our rep with the Gladiators contacted us to say, “Yes, we definitely will have a season.” Also read that NHL player agents are contacting AHL and ECHL teams to secure playing time for players this fall. Although the possibility of marquee players joining our ECHL affiliate is slim-to-none, why not create a Fantasy Team? Why not dream?

No, not the type of Fantasy Team/League all the guys get so wrapped up in this time of year. This Fantasy Team would actually play with the Gladiators until the League regains its sanity. That could take a while.

First pick: If you want to start with a solid defense—and remember, this is a Fantasy Dream Team; who better to stand between the offense and the goal than Vezina-winning goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Atlanta may not be NYC, but it’s a great town for families, boasts a decent nightlife, and you can’t beat the weather. With Lundqvist defending the goal, the Gladiators could envision a record season for fewest goals allowed—if any make it past the goal line. Those second-row-on the-corner seats would offer a perfect view of The King’s skills twice per game (though this may necessitate an upgrade in seats to truly appreciate this talent).

Not to be greedy, but why not, while we’re dreaming? Let’s put Zdeno Chara on defense. The Slovakian recorded the fastest slap shot at last year’s All Star Competition (over 108 mph) and could mentor the younger players in defense and offense—and how to out-psych the opponent by developing that imposing demeanor that made him famous. Of course, standing 6’9″ and about 250 pounds helps; then adding the height of the skates and the bulk of the pads and equipment—well “imposing” might be an understatement. Chara’s guaranteed to draw even football fanatics to the arena once the word gets out. Although, with Chara in the line-up, those second-row-on-the-corner seats may provide some safety, rather that sit in the vicinity of any Chara-hits near the glass.

@ Michael Miller

Again, not to be greedy, but let’s add a really, really good scorer to this Fantasy Team…like Steve Stamkos. Besides the fact he’s the top scorer in the league, just 22-years-old—and practically a neighbor over in Tampa—he’s so much fun to watch. Just watching the warm-ups, sans helmet, that golden hair flying in his wake… sure to ensure a sell-out every game. If Stamkos scored 60 goals in the NHL last year, think of the records he could shatter in the ECHL.

Any agents reading, feel free to contact the Gladiators’ President/GM, Steve Chapman. This Fantasy Team stops here with just three NHL players. The young kids on the Gladiators need and deserve ice time to develop. Many of the favorites are signed for the season, too.

©Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Oh, before I forget, after the Sprint Cup Chase—and until Speed Weeks in February—adding Tony Stewart to drive that Zamboni. Bet he could clear the ice in record time—and in a classic Smoke style.

Besides, the UPS truck just stopped out front. iPhone5, right on time.

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