The Tampa Bay Lightning are raring to go, but remain in a holding pattern – just like the NHL's 29 other teams.
The reins are not expected to be loosened until the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified later this week by the NHL board of governors and the NHL Players' Association. Player voting might not be complete until Saturday, according to The Associated Press.
That timeline suggests Tampa Bay's training camp might not open until Sunday and all but confirms a shortened season consisting of 48 games will not begin before Jan. 19. At this point, the team will not open camp before Saturday, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said.
The Lightning are considering their options for an abbreviated camp, including holding part of it out of town, in either Orlando or Estero, holding all dates at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon or The Forum in downtown Tampa – or some combination of all of the above.
"We are considering options for a location,'' Yzerman said.
The team is also considering holding Ice Fest, a fan event usually held at the start of training camp, but those plans are on hold until a date for camp is known.
As players await word on the official start of training camp, informal skates will continue at the Ice Sports Forum throughout the week, with morning sessions beginning around 10:15 a.m. All sessions are open to the public.
On Monday, the day after a new collective bargaining agreement was reached to end the league-imposed lockout, 16 players were on the ice, including Florida Panthers D Filip Kuba, former Lightning D Brett Clark and veteran D Sean O'Donnell, who are both unrestricted free agents.
Tampa Bay players included Vinny Lecavalier, Ryan Malone, Adam Hall, Tom Pyatt, B.J. Crombeen, Benoit Pouliot, Marty St. Louis, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Sami Salo, Teddy Purcell, Eric Brewer, Mathieu Garon and Dana Tyrell.
Steven Stamkos, Nate Thompson and Brian Lee are expected to attend on Tuesday. Victor Hedman, who played in Russia during the lockout, is scheduled to arrive in town Wednesday afternoon, while D Brendan Mikkelson, who suited up for a second-division team in Sweden, tweeted Monday afternoon he was flying to Tampa on Tuesday.
The full allotment of players is expected to be in town by the end of the week.
And though the lockout will not officially be lifted until the ratification process is complete, the players were granted access to the team locker room and facilities on Monday for the first time since the lockout was instituted on Sept. 16.
"Today, I'm comfortable coming to the rink," Malone said. "Sitting in my nice locker stall and taking to the hot tub before I get on the ice is nice.''
Since Malone and former Tampa Bay G Mike Smith shaved their heads for charity in April 2011, the friends made a friendly wager to see how long they could go without a haircut.
On Monday, Malone showed up with a new crisp look after sitting in the barber's chair over the weekend.
So, who won the bet?
"Nobody, we both cut our hair,'' Malone said.
The two took part in the Cut for the Cure event held annually by Tampa Bay captain Lecavalier to raise money for cancer research.