Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

NHL teams begin gearing up for sprint to the Stanley Cup

Maxime Talbot smiles at fans as he practices at the Philadelphia Flyers' NHL hockey training facility Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, in Voorhees, N.J.

Associated Press

For all the economic destruction that the NHL lockout has wrought to businesses surrounding the league's arenas, its end is a boon for another industry: first class air travel.

Monday will see hundreds of hockey players and team executives take to the air as the NHL begins preparations in earnest for a 48 or 50 game season that should start Jan. 19 or thereabouts - Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said in an e-mail he is making plans to jet off to New York ahead of this week's NHL board of governors meeting to ratify the agreement-in-principle reached with the NHL Players' Association in the wee hours of Sunday morning.

The vote is expected to be a formality, as should be the union's vote on the proposal this week.

Story continues below advertisement

The arrivals area at Montreal's Trudeau airport will also be thick with hockey bags and NHLPA ballcaps in the coming days as various members of the Canadiens make their way back from stints in Europe or from various points in North America.

It is a scene that will be repeated in the other six Canadian NHL cities as the league begins to ramp up its activities.

Montreal forward Colby Armstrong has been skating with the East Coast Hockey League's Utah Grizzlies, where his brother plays, and told a Montreal newspaper that he was embarking on a multi-leg flying odyssey with a view to getting back to Quebec in time for training camp, which is expected to open Thursday.

Goaltender Carey Price has been waiting out the work stoppage at his house in British Columbia, several others like Lars Eller, Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais will be returning from Finland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, respectively.

In truth, it won't take long for the players, who have been itching for this moment for months, to get back to town.

As recent Montreal free agent signee Brandon Prust said with undisguised glee on Twitter this weekend, "man, this is going to be good."

The 250 or so NHL players who are currently with European teams all have clauses in their contracts allowing them to return to their NHL teams - most even have provisions ensuring the European clubs pay for their airfare.

Story continues below advertisement

"We've advised our clients not to practice and not to play in any games for their European teams," said player agent Don Meehan, who represents roughly 40 players who went overseas, including Habs defenceman Andrei Markov, who is expected back in Montreal by Tuesday.

Meehan will be a busy man this week, he speaks for a handful of restricted free agents - the New York Rangers' Michael del Zotto and Montreal's P.K. Subban chief among them - who will only have a couple of days to sign new contracts if they are to participate in the shortened training camps that will open later this week.

In addition to contract signings, trades and various roster moves, the NHL's 30 teams are also scrambling to issue tickets, fire up dormant ad campaigns, and secure their sponsorship revenues from contracts that in many cases feature hefty penalties based on the number of games that will be played this season.

Then there's the small matter of actually turning the agreement-in-principle into a legal document.

The men in sharp suits on both sides of the table are already arguing over the fine print, a process that could take several weeks.

With the lockout over, has the NHL won you back? Vote in our poll and compare your answer with others.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
National Correspondent

Sean Gordon joined the Globe's Quebec bureau in 2008 and covers the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, as well as Quebec's contingent of Olympic athletes. More

Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.