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Frozen Grounds: An Introduction and a Purpose

As talk of the NHL coming to Seattle is heating up, sports fans might be wondering what they're getting themselves into. Cassie McClellan, of the Tampa Bay Lightning site Raw Charge, is here to help people out if they need it.

Hi. My name is Cassie McClellan. I'm the Associate Managing Editor for the SB Nation Tampa Bay Lightning site, Raw Charge, and I'm here to be your tour guide to the National Hockey League.

With speculation running rampant about a possible NHL team landing in Seattle to help anchor a possible new arena, I volunteered to help out. There are a number of hockey fans already in Seattle with the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Everett Silvertips, along with a few die hard NHL fans - but the NHL fans can be few and far between. So there are lot of people in Washington who might be interested in hockey, but maybe they don't know a lot about the NHL, and they'll have questions. And questions, of course, need answers.

I'm going to be up front and tell you that I don't know absolutely everything about the NHL. I know most things, but I'm not an expert. Even still, I can fill you in on what you'll need to know to get started, and if I can't answer a question for you right off, I'll try my best to research it and find an answer for you.

As for a bit of background about myself, I grew up on the Olympic Peninsula and my family's from the Tacoma area. I first got into hockey back in the early 1990s with the Tacoma Rockets of the Western Hockey League (WHL). (That particular team has long since left for Kelowna, British Columbia.) I also played hockey in Tacoma myself for a bit, before an injury forced me to stop.

I started blogging about hockey about five years ago, after I'd moved to the state of Florida for a job. Tampa Bay was the closest NHL team, so I started writing about them. I've been a hockey fan for a long time, but I tend to follow players more than teams. So while I write about the Lightning, I also try to keep up on what the rest of the NHL is doing. I currently live near the other Washington - DC, that is.

Having said that, John Fontana recruited me about three years ago to help him run Raw Charge. Before that, I was running a Lightning blog by myself (not my own) called Bolts Blog. I've also contributed to The Hockey News online and have had my writing featured on the front page of numerous times. I've had media credentials granted to me by the NHL to attend the NHL All-Star Weekend in 2011 as a member of the media. Both the Tampa Bay Lightning and their AAA farm team, the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League (AHL), have also granted me media credentials.

Oh, and I help run and co-host an internet talk show called the CCPT Hockey Show with Su Ring, who is a Seattle area local, which will return from hiatus this Sunday at 3 pm PT.

The plan here is for me to let you guys know about the basics about the NHL. This includes how the league is set up with conferences and divisions, as well as playoff structure, top teams, top players, fighting and other rules, the Canada / US frictions when it comes to the sport, and that sort of thing. If you have something you'd like explained or discussed, then please let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading, and I hope I can answer your questions satisfactorily in the coming weeks and months about the weird, wacky, and usually Canadian-run world of the NHL.