Proud players thrilled that hockey is back
‘‘From being in the room quite a bit, there was a sense this was the best deal available,’’ he said in New York. ‘‘It’s always tough because we’re all fans of the game and we wish we didn’t have to go through this. But we did, and we’re on the other side now.’’
All games through Jan. 14 had already been canceled, claiming more than 50 percent of the original schedule. Teams will hold a brief training camp, maybe a week, before starting at least a 48-game season.
‘‘Training camp, usually you do three days then you start exhibition games,’’ Flyers forward Max Talbot said. ‘‘I believe it’s enough. Sometimes training camp is too long. It’s nice to get in the action. Forty-eight games in a little bit of time ... I think it would be exciting.’’
The Flyers, Bruins and the Sidney Crosby-led Penguins were among the teams that worked out on their own, some paying for ice time at their team’s own practice rinks.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was set to return to North America this week after playing for Prague Lev of the KHL. The Russian league was a popular landing spot for locked-out players, who decided the structure — and payday — was worth the risk of injury as they waited out the dispute.
‘‘It was fun, it was great to be doing the practices and being with my (Bruins) teammates,’’ Chara, a defenseman, said. ‘‘At the same time, it wasn’t organized hockey under some kind of a system and schedule. That’s why I choose to go to Europe and play over here.’’
Well, he can pack his sticks and catch a plane. That practice ice time price is about to get slashed to ‘‘free.’’
Flyers forward Jody Shelley said teammate Scott Hartnell gave him the good news the lockout was about over via a text at 5:30 a.m. Sunday. Shelley expected more of his teammates to trickle in this week to the Flyers’ New Jersey training facility.
‘‘We can get back as a group, get back as a team,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re the Philadelphia Flyers. That’s what we want to be, all of us. We left there last May and we couldn’t wait to get back in September and get at it.
Four months later, it’s time to play. Finally.
AP Sports Writer Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.
Follow Dan Gelston at www.twitter.com/APGelston