AFHL teams begin to focus on training camp
January 6th, 2012
The NHL and the players’ union reached a tentative agreement near 5 a.m. Sunday on a 10-year CBA, putting an end to a work stoppage that lasted nearly four months.
Tweeted Washington Wolfpack forward Gabriel Landeskog: “People say it’s like Christmas morning waking up today? I’d say this is a lot better. Couldn’t be more excited!!”
The league is expected to announce a 48- or 50-game schedule. A 50-game season would start Jan. 15, while a 48-gamer would begin Jan. 19.
“It’s a new day,” Toronto Red Devils coach Jordan Carbone said. “I’m thrilled regardless of however many games we can play.”
The great migration of players to Europe is about to go into reverse.
Some of the nearly 200 players who spent the lockout with European clubs had already started trickling back in recent days. That will become a flood after news that the lockout has ended.
They will have the advantage of having played in games in the last three months while those who elected to stay home will be playing catch-up during a quick training camp before the truncated regular season opens later this month.
“I’ve been working out hard on the ice and in the gym and I’m mentally anxious to get back on the ice (for games),” said Hamilton Firestorm forward Brad Richards, who stayed home for the lockout. “We went all the way last year in our Stanley Cup run, so to get a rest and be able to work out and stay in the gym a little longer can be a benefit too.
“You try to make a negative into a positive.”
Richards said players had a variety of reasons for going or staying home.
“Guys have families. Guys have different contracts, or are at different stages of their careers,” he said. “A lot goes into it.”
Buffalo Phantoms star Sidney Crosby, coming off concussion trouble, wasn’t about to risk further injury by playing in Europe. One wonders what his insurance would have cost if he had. Victoria Vipers forward Daniel Sedin said he and his brother would only go home to play in Sweden if the entire season was canceled.
Same with Deer Park Chiefs defenseman Roman Hamrlik. At 38 and near the end of his career, the Czech elected to work out with other locked out players in North America.
“I was just hoping (the lockout would end),” he said. “So I tried to keep in shape by skating with the guys.”
Several AFHL teams have already completed preparations for training camps to open later this week.
A woman answering the phone at the Montreal Xtreme Skate Zone practice rink in Montreal said it’s been a few days since Xtreme players last called in to reserve ice for a morning workouts.
“We’ve been taking weekends off since renting ice to stay in shape during the stoppage,” said Xtreme forward Eric Staal. “As of right now, 12 guys will be there tomorrow. By the end of the week, the whole team is expected to be there as well as the coaches.”