There have been some tantalizing glimpses of hockey in recent weeks. Alex Ovechkin riding a Zamboni down Sixth Avenue in New York City one of them, Sidney Crosby posing with United States President Barack Obama another.
In Traverse City, Mich., scores of hopeful NHL players took the ice at the annual Prospects Tournament, while in other rinks across North America players skated in groups, getting ready for training camp.
And the wait is over. NHL practice rinks will be jumping this weekend as teams administer physicals to their players, who, in turn, take the ice. There is no time to waste as the New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks open the pre-season Monday night in Terrace, British Columbia in the Kraft Hockeyville game, where John Tavares, the '09 Draft top selection, could make his pro debut.
On Tuesday night, the Ottawa Senators play the Florida Panthers in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the Boston Bruins play the New York Rangers, the Columbus Blue Jackets meet the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Minnesota Wild play the St. Louis Blues, the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames renew their rivalry early and the Los Angeles Kings and Phoenix Coyotes will split their squads and play two games.
Whew! Here is a look around the League as some camp doings.
Anaheim Ducks -- The Ducks will open their 16th camp on Sunday, Sept. 13 at THE RINKS - Anaheim ICE and fans can attend all practices free of charge. On the first four days of camp, the team will hold two simultaneous practice sessions on two sheets of ice (NHL and Olympic size). Practices will begin at 9:45 a.m., with a scrimmage starting at 10:45 a.m. On the first day of practice (Sept. 13), the Anaheim Ducks Street Team will be on hand with a limited supply of Ducks merchandise for lucky fans in attendance.
Atlanta Thrashers -- The Thrashers open their camp on Saturday, Sept. 12 with physicals and medical testing, and will begin on-ice sessions starting Sunday, Sept. 13 at 9 a.m. at the team’s practice facility in Duluth, Ga. Camp will open with players split into three practice groups before being reduced to two groups on Sept. 16 and one group on Sept. 22.
Boston Bruins -- The Bruins take the ice Sunday and fans can watch for free at TD Garden. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. and breakfast will be provided on a first-come, first served basis.
The Bruins will also be hosting an equipment sale at the TD Garden in conjunction with the open training camp sessions. Fans can purchase new and used skates, pads, helmets, bags, gloves and socks, among other items. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of equipment will benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation.
Buffalo Sabres -- For the Sabres, their full camp starts Saturday when the veterans report to HSBC Arena bright and early at 8 a.m. All practices during this week will be at HSBC Arena, and are free and open to the public. Select concession stands will also be open. Check www.sabres.com for practice schedule updates.
Carolina Hurricanes -- The 'Canes have physicals Saturday and take the ice Sunday at RBC Center at 10 a.m. The Hurricanes host the Nashville Predators in their first exhibition game five days later, with faceoff set for 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18. On Sunday, Sept. 20, the team will host its annual Caniac Carnival at the RBC Center, the season kick-off event which includes rides, interactive games, live music and an autograph session with select Hurricanes players. The Caniac Carnival is free to all fans.
Colorado Avalanche -- For the Avalanche, their first camp without Joe Sakic will see a total of 59 players attending camp, with 30 of those players also competing at rookie camp. The training camp roster breaks down into 30 forwards, 22 defensemen and seven goaltenders. The club’s rookie camp will include 14 forwards, 12 defensemen and four goaltenders. The players will hit the ice Sunday.
Columbus Blue Jackets -- The Blue Jackets also will be on the ice for the first time Sunday at the Dispatch Ice Haus. All practices held at The Dispatch Ice Haus throughout camp will be open to the public. There are 43 players expected to participate in this year's training camp. Also, a number of the 29 players participating in the club's rookie camp in Traverse City will also be taking part in the club's main camp and are listed on the enclosed roster.
Dallas Stars -- The Stars will have physicals Saturday and their first practice Sunday. All practices at Dr Pepper Arena will be open to the public. Practices will take place on both the Stars Rink and the Dr Pepper Arena Rink. Most scrimmages will take place on the Dr Pepper Arena Rink.
Detroit Red Wings -- The Wings will hold camp in Traverse City and began to make the move there Friday. On-ice workouts under coach Mike Babcock start Sunday. Players will be divided into three teams named Abel, Delvecchio and Sawchuk.
Edmonton Oilers -- Medicals for the Oilers are Saturday with the first on-ice workout Sunday. This is the Oilers' 30th NHL training camp.
Florida Panthers -- The open their 2009 training camp on Sunday in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, with their first on-ice session at 9 a.m. The Panthers training camp roster consists of 54 players, which includes 30 forwards, 19 defensemen and five goaltenders.
Los Angeles Kings -- The Kings take the ice for the first time Sunday at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. All on-ice practices are open to the fans and 61 players are scheduled to participate in this year’s camp. The players will be divided into three teams at the start of camp with the first on-ice practice set to begin at 8:30 a.m.
Minnesota Wild -- Todd Richards will begin his first camp as Wild head coach Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Minnesota will hold public open scrimmages on Sunday and Monday, Sept. 14 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fans can enter Gate 1 starting at 11 a.m. both days to watch the team scrimmage.
Montreal Canadiens -- A total of 54 players will participate in the Canadiens' camp. Players will report for physicals and medical exams at the Bell Sports Complex Saturday. The first on-ice workout is Sunday. Of the 54 players invited to training camp; 6 are goaltenders, 18 are defencemen and 30 are forwards. 26 of the 29 players who attended the rookie camp have been invited to the main camp.
Nashville Predators -- Preds' camp opens with testing, both on- and off-ice, physicals and photos on Saturday at Centennial Sportsplex. The ice rinks, Predators facilities and the indoor tennis complex will be used on Day One of camp. The team’s first on-ice practice will be on Sunday at 10 a.m. at Centennial Sportsplex. All practices at the Sportsplex are free and open to the public.
New Jersey Devils -- Devils players will undergo medical tests Saturday and be on the ice Sunday at the practice rink at Prudential Center for Jacques Lemaire's return as head coach.
New York Islanders -- The Islanders will train in Western Canada this season, starting with a game against the Canucks on Monday as a part of Kraft Hockeyville 2009. The Islanders will be based out of the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
New York Rangers -- The Rangers will have 45 players in camp, including a contingent that competed at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament. Camp gets under way Saturday.
Ottawa Senators -- All eyes will be on Dany Heatley as the unhappy forward reports to camp hoping for a trade. For their part, the Senators said they will welcome Heatley back.
"I’ve talked to a lot of guys coming back and we all seem in good spirits," said forward Nick Foligno, one of a number of Senators players who thrived under coach Cory Clouston's up-tempo system, told the team web site. "Everyone is rarin’ to go. Everyone really wants to come back here and do well."
Philadelphia Flyers -- The Flyers will greet 59 players to training camp Saturday for physicals. All players will take the ice for practice beginning Sunday.
Phoenix Coyotes -- The Coyotes open camp Saturday for physicals and fitness tests. On-ice practice begins Sunday. All Coyotes practices during training camp will be held at Jobing.com Arena and all practices are open to the public. Fans can enter the arena through Gate 3.
Pittsburgh Penguins -- Fitness tests and physicals await the Penguins on Saturday before the players take the ice Sunday. From Sunday through Wednesday, Sept. 16, all four daily sessions are open to the public free of charge. Fans may enter the arena via Gate 1 starting 15 minutes prior to the start of practice. Parking in arena lots will be based on availability and daily rates will apply on weekdays. Concession stands and PenStation, the Penguins official team store, will be open inside Mellon Arena.
San Jose Sharks -- Sharks training camp officially opens on Sunday at Sharks Ice at San Jose. The first intra-squad scrimmage will take place at 11:15 a.m. on the facility’s South Rink.
St. Louis Blues -- Andy Murray and the Blues are officially reporting to work. Players will be divided into three teams and will begin on-ice testing Saturday at St. Louis Mills. Training camp will move to Scottrade Center on Sunday, Sept. 13, Monday, Sept. 14 and Thursday, Sept. 17 with practices at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m. All three days will also feature scrimmages at 11:30 a.m. All training camp events are free and open to the public.
Tampa Bay Lightning -- The Bolts open up their 17th training camp at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum on Saturday. Physicals will begin at 8 a.m. while on-ice testing will get under way at 10 a.m. The camp will be highlighted with open practices, free lunches and more for fans.
Vancouver Canucks -- Saturday lifts the curtain on a new season for the Canucks. All on-ice practice sessions open to the public. Admission to practices at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre is complimentary. Forty players are scheduled to report to UBC Saturday for pre-training camp medicals and testing. Veteran players will join prospects continuing on from the Prospects Training Camp, for the 2009 Canucks Training Camp at UBC. The players will take to the ice at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre beginning Sunday
Washington Capitals -- Formal on-ice sessions of training camp for the Capitals begin Sunday at 10 a.m., and include scrimmages at 12:15 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as three teams compete for the Gaetan Duchesne Cup, named for the former Capitals forward. This marks the Capitals’ third training camp at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the Metro-accessible, inside-the-Beltway practice facility that features two NHL-sized rinks. All on-ice sessions at rookie camp and training camp – like every Capitals practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex – will be open to the public and free of charge.