With the NHL and NHLPA having struck a preliminary agreement, players have ramped up their on-ice workouts in preparation for training camp.
Eight Bruins (Tuukka Rask, Andrew Ference, Adam McQuaid, Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton) participated in an informal practice at Boston University’s Agganis Arena Monday.
Local NHLers Ryan Whitney, Keith Yandle, Brandon Yip, and Jay Pandolfo also participated in the session. Ex-NHLer Mike Grier led the practice.
“Words can’t describe it,” Seguin said of how much he’s missed the NHL. “From hanging out with the guys, seeing everyone, and obviously the game. It’s been a long couple months. I had a lot of fun over in Europe as well.”
The league has yet to announce the schedule for the regular season. The players have not been told when training camp will start. They will continue their practices at BU until they are given the green light to practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. Their most important task is to ramp up to game shape.
“You never know until you’re playing games,” said Lucic, who did not sign in Europe during the lockout. “I tried to keep myself in shape. We still have two more weeks here of skating. I’ve never had a problem with my conditioning at any level. I’ll be ready.”
* Ference participated in the lockout-ending bargaining sessions in New York. “When it was teetering there, I think there were people on both sides that were ready to blow the whole thing up,” Ference said of negotiations. “It was pretty scary there to think of when you think long-term of what that would actually mean to everybody. It was pretty intense.”
* Ference was involved in the ouster of former executive director Paul Kelly. Had Kelly still been in place, Ference believes the lockout would have ended earlier. “We’d be playing. For sure,” Ference said. “I’m sure we wouldn’t have missed as much hockey. I think the league would have been salivating.”