Teams can begin holding organized practices for the first time since the Olympics began Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET.
That gives most teams five or six days of practice time before the season resumes March 1, when the Red Wings visit the Avalanche (9 p.m. ET, VERSUS). There's 12 games March 2, highlighted by a Versus doubleheader starting with Philadelphia at Tampa Bay (7:30 p.m. ET), followed by New Jersey at San Jose (10:30 p.m. ET).
Many players found the break a welcome respite. They spent their time taking vacations or just spending time with their families.
"I think the Olympic break was something everyone was looking forward to," Washington Capitals forward Mike Knuble told NHL.com. "Good to get away. Some guys with injuries were happy to get some time off. … It was nice to step back for a second and stop."
"It was nice, it was a lot of fun," added Philadelphia Flyers forward Danny Briere. "It would be nice if we could have that little break every year to recharge the batteries."
"I think the Olympic break was something everyone was looking forward to. Good to get away. Some guys with injuries were happy to get some time off. … It was nice to step back for a second and stop." -- Capitals forward Mike Knuble
"Some teams right on the edge of playoffs, in or out, if they're missing somebody who's a key player, they bought time," said Knuble. "Getting certain guys back or getting a certain guy healthy again, it'll be interesting to see how teams can reverse their fortune and really focus on a strong run."
But the time off will be ending soon enough. For some players, it's about time.
"We're excited and we can't wait to get back on the ice," said Briere. "Get back to feeling games."
Some teams are planning special events to go with their relaunch over the next few days. The Atlanta Thrashers will hold a skills competition and 3-on-3 scrimmage Friday night. Tampa Bay Lightning alum Chris Dingman will host a "Lightning Unplugged" event Thursday, where fans will get the chance to meet captain Vincent Lecavalier and forward Steve Downie. And Maple Leafs fans will be able to meet goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere and forward Colton Orr on Saturday.
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