So the doctor walks into the examination room with a concerned look on his face and says “I’ve got good news, and I’ve got bad news; which should I start with?”

The Good News:

The Toronto Marlies announced their five and a half secured home dates for the upcoming 2012/13 season.

Five and a half, you say?

For the second straight season the Marlies will invade Air Canada Centre ice for their annual Boxing Day game. It’s not technically at home, but Ricoh regulars don’t exactly have to travel all that far – and the food selection is great (all for Burkie’s Dog House).

It was December 26, 2007 when the team first played the day after Christmas. The Marlies traveled to Rochester and handed the Americans a 2-1 loss; thank you John Mitchell and Kris Newbury for the goals. Justin Pogge made 22 saves for the victory and Colin Murphy received a ten minute misconduct for instigating a fight with Patrick Kaleta.

The following year brought a victory in Cleveland as they tripled up the Monsters 3-1. We all appreciate the game winning goal from Steffan Kronwall and Adam “Munny” Munro collected the win with 31 saves.

Toronto split the next two against the Monsters (loss) and Bulldogs (win) respectively until last season’s spectacle. In front out of an outstanding crowd of 13,238 Toronto came out for one of their strongest opening periods they had all season; three goals in a little more than five minutes.

Outside of pre-season, it provided an opportunity to a pile of prospects to compete in a close to NHL like atmosphere for the first time. Unfortunately four second period goals and a pair in the third for the opposition extinguished the original lead. Ben Scrivens allowed five goals, equaling the same amount allowed in his previous three starts.

That’s okay though, Marlies certainly had their payback in front of a 20k-plus group in the AHL Outdoor Classic, dubbed afterward as the Steeltown Touchdown after Toronto’s 7-2 win.

And talking Outdoor Classic, even though it isn’t included on the Marlies six-game list, as reported last week the Marlies will take to the open air once again as they square off against the Grand Rapids Griffins on December 30th.

A couple more notes on the Marlies schedule:

From the looks of it, work may have been done on managing those two draining road trips; one coming during the Royal Winter Fair (November) and the second during the Boat Show (January). The schedule shows home dates on the 17th and 18th of November (one day earlier than last season) and on both the 5th and 26th of January.

Although this by no means guarantees a roadie shorter than the 21 days endured during the 2010/11 campaign, but I do believe it might support a little more balance through two of their toughest months. Despite a very strong end to the 2009/10 season, the Marlies could not recover from a rough road trip in January where they managed only a single victory in eight consecutive road contests.

Marlies announce their home opener for Saturday October 13th, likely hours ahead of when the Maple Leafs take to the ice for their first game at home against Montreal. Both Joe Colborne and Joey Crabb hit the scoresheet three times when the Marlies opened up 2011/12, tying five others for the club’s all-time home-opener scoring lead (Murphy, Kronwall, Brett Engelhardt, Jeremy Williams and Darryl Boyce).

Now just as the doctor had,

The Bad News:

One hundred and eight more days.

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