Traverse City Record-Eagle

Sports

September 11, 2013

Back to work: NHL training camps open today

Swept out of the playoffs, Evgeni Malkin is itching to get back on the ice with his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates.

"I miss hockey," he said. "It's (a) long summer."

Actually, it's the NHL's shortest summer in recent history. Training camps open around the league Wednesday, just 79 days after the Chicago Blackhawks wrapped up the lockout-shortened 2013 season by winning the Stanley Cup.

"I think for us, it's a short offseason, but we're excited to go back to camp and be together with a team again, get things started and just get back to our daily job as hockey players," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said last week.

Condensing a 48-game regular season and playoffs into a window from mid-January to June made for a June 24 ending. The draft and free agency came and went in a blur.

Blackhawks players got to celebrate with a parade and now must shift focus to the business of trying to repeat. For players from the runner-up Boston Bruins and everyone else, preparations for training camp have been underway for a while.

It doesn't seem to matter that the offseason was so brief.

"From how you prepare for a season, I don't think it has any effect," Winnipeg Jets left winger Andrew Ladd said. "I think you would always usually come into town a couple weeks early and skate with the guys and start preparing for the season."

Those informal skates are over, as are rookie camps. Teams have physicals and other off-ice activities scheduled for Wednesday, and the first on-ice sessions Thursday.

For teams featuring new coaches — John Tortorella with the Vancouver Canucks, Alain Vigneault with the New York Rangers, Lindy Ruff with the Dallas Stars, and Dallas Eakins with the Edmonton Oilers — training camp is the first taste of change. As he did when in charge of the Rangers, Tortorella sent a letter to Canucks players detailing what fitness testing would be like, and strength trainers sent videos of what it looked like.

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