After 113 days of NO hockey, the NHL and the NHLPA finally sewed up a tentative 10 year Collective Bargaining Agreement over the weekend.
It was announced today by NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly that training camp will begin for all 30 clubs on January 13th 2013 (pending on the ratification process on Saturday) and the 2012...er 2013 season is expected to commence on January 19th.
The NHL is looking to create a 48 game schedule which will only consist of inter-conference battles. Each team will play 4 games between divisional rivals before marching into the play-offs. In other words hockey fans (if you still exist), don't expect Sid the Kid at Rogers Arena or Taylor Hall at MSG (remember those two guys?) until perhaps the play-offs.
Today in Edmonton, more than a handful of players met at Rexall for a quick practice - among them were Corey Potter, Ladi Smid, Eric Belanger, Nick Schultz, Devan Dubnyk and Nikolai Khabibulin, while Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz remained off the ice to answer the media.
"I feel like I'm in mid-season form right now. There are going to be some guys that are going to be a little rusty and that's bound to happen. But we have enough guys here that have been playing that shouldn't be a problem." said Jordan Eberle who led the Oklahoma Barons in points with 51 in 34 games played.
Without a doubt Eberle is ready. And how about the rest of these guys who also had the opportunity to play hockey during the lock-out: Taylor Hall accumulated 34 pts in 26 games for OKC. He's ready! Ryan Nugent-Hopkins totaled 20 points in 19 games and then went on to earn 14 points for Canada during the 2013 World Juniors. He's good to go! And who could forget newly acquired defenceman Justin Schultz, the 22 year-old rookie who ended his AHL experience with a mind boggling 48 points in 34 games.
"I've waited my whole life to play in the NHL. I had to wait half a year, but I'm excited to play with all these guys. said Schultz. He's already on the starting block waiting for the gun to sound.
Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, and the highly touted Nail Yakupov have yet to tell the tales of their experience with their clubs from overseas. The trio has also had the benefit to playing organized hockey during the 113 day lock-out. There is no word yet of their return.
Yup...I think the core is ready. Are you?
More to come, Ryan Jones eye injury.