While the new collective bargaining agreement has not yet been ratified by NHLPA members or the NHL’s Board of Governors, things are already getting back to normal at KCI.
Jason Chimera, John Carlson, Jay Beagle, Mike Ribeiro and Mike Green, all of whom spent the majority of the lockout in Washington, were on the ice in Arlington Monday morning and back in the Washington Capitals’ dressing room.
The players still had to pay for their ice time, but they were able to interact with team officials and equipment and training staffs for the first time in nearly four months.
“We were so excited to put our gear in there and actually have it hung up and not in the refs room rotting over there,” said Beagle, who was asked if he had any plans to celebrate being back in the Caps room. “Maybe get [your] skates sharpened for the first time in a month and a half.”
Beagle is also happy to relinquish his lockout duties as keeper of the practice puck bucket and water bottles.
“The puck bucket’s not mine and I see the water bottle pail is still out there,” Beagle said. “I don’t know who’s going to take care of that. I’m not touching it though, I’m done with that. I’m not filling up the water bottles anymore.”
Carlson was equally glad to be back in the big dressing room, where their equipment can properly dry out.
“Smells good. It’s big, nice, cozy,” Carlson said. “It’s gonna be fun when everyone gets back. We have fun with each other, whoever’s here, always. But that group atmosphere, you come in and have fun every day. It’s gonna be fun.”
More Capitals are expected to join the informal workouts as the week progresses and they return from their offseason home or European lockout teams. The official start of training camp remains uncertain, but it seems Saturday or some point this weekend is most likely. A 48-game season starting Jan. 19 is also the most probable scenario for the shortened 2012-13 season, according to an NHL memo sent to all teams.