The 2013 NHL season is no longer an 82 game marathon, but instead is a 48 game dash to the finish line.
Will teams that had multiple players skating in Europe fair better? Will veteran squads win because they will have fresh legs all season long? Only the next few months will tell.
Here are my Eastern Conference power rankings.
1. Pittsburgh Penguins – A healthyEvgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will lead Pittsburgh deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs. The addition of veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun gives Coach Dan Bylsma a solid option if Marc-Andre Fleury falters.
It took a long 16 hour negotiating session in New York yesterday, but the NHL and NHLPA hashed out an agreement in principle around 6 a.m. today.
The NHL did not announce the start date of the season or the number of games each team will play, but it is expected to be a 48 or 50 game season starting on either January 15 or January 19 with teams only playing within their respective conferences. The Bolts had January 15, 17 and 19 as scheduled home games, thus it is a good bet that they will open the season at the Forum.
The new CBA still has to be drafted and ratified by both sides. It is for ten years with an eight year opt-out.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward and player representative Adam Hall has signed a lockout contract with Ravensburg in the German second division. (Photograph/Linda Hamilton)
According to Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune, Hall will make his debut on Friday versus Rosenheim. Hall spoke about his decision to play overseas:
Via the Tampa Tribune:
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity. It'll be great to play and keep that competitive edge. You have to do whatever you can, whether it's here in Tampa or guys going back home or finding other places to train or play. Guys just need to find the best places to train."
The players union seems steadfastly united as 250-300 members are expected to meet in New York, today and tomorrow. Lightning players planning on attending are Adam Hall, Nate Thompson, Mathieu Garon, BJ Crombeen, Brian Lee, Matt Carle and Marc-Andre Bergeron.
The NHL and the NHLPA have plans to meet this morning at 10:00 a.m. despite still remaining far apart. If the two sides don’t reach an agreement, the lockout will officially start at midnight on Sunday.
The Lightning players are preparing for a work stoppage. In that case, they will not be able to enter the Tampa Bay Times Forum or any other team facility.
Here are some Hockey Bay tidbits to hold you over until training camp opens…hopefully.
An NHL work stoppage is nearing reality as the September 15 deadline is fast approaching. A group of Lightning players continue to work towards the scheduled September 21 training camp opening, assembling most mornings at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon, Florida for informal practice. Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Adam Hall, Eric Brewer, Marc-Andre Bergeron, BJ Crombeen, Sami Salo, Mathieu Garon, Dmitri Korobov and free agent Brett Clark are regulars at the morning skates.
These union members are upset that the basis of the league's proposal cuts the players' share of hockey-...
"I didn't know the Predators were this good!" Said many Islander fans who watched Monday afternoon's 3-1 Islanders loss to Nashville. Maybe no one realized that they are so talented because they only play the Islanders once a year. And that is definitely something a realignment can change, but that is a discussion for another time.
If you read my pregame report for this game, you will know that 1 out of the 3 things that I suggested happened. The one being that the Islanders started Kevin Poulin. Poulin had been stellar in Bridgeport, being named AHL Player of the Week stopping 98 of his last 100 shots faced prior to Monday's game.