With a tentative CBA agreement in place, it will soon be back to business as usual for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the other 29 teams in the league.
Although Twitter has been abuzz with various media outlets reporting a league memo sent to the teams saying that a 48-game season will be in place, nothing has yet to be confirmed directly by the league itself. There is still a lot to be worked out to get ready for the start of the abbreviated season such as training camps and possible, but highly unlikely, exhibition games. These decisions will likely come sometime this week as several reports have also indicated a schedule could be released Thursday or Friday and we could be looking for things to start rolling as early as Jan. 15 or Jan. 19.
Today Penguins co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle issued a statement to fans apologizing for the lockout as well as to thank them for their continued support.
“We want to thank you for your patience and your loyalty to the Penguins. We hope to repay it many times over. Our commitment to winning the Stanley Cup and our commitment to you has not changed,” it says.
The statement indirectly confirms that Evgeni Malkin, who has been playing in the KHL for Metallurg Magnitogorsk since the lockout began, will return and take the ice once again for the Penguins:
The sounds of skates churning across the ice and pucks banging against the glass are returning to CONSOL Energy Center. That means a healthy Sidney Crosby is about to rejoin NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin, first-team All-Star James Neal, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik and others as we begin our quest to bring the Stanley Cup back to Pittsburgh.
It’s not going to be an easy transition, though. There are plenty of things the Penguins need to do before they are in top game-shape and they have much less time to do it. Granted, it should be easier for the players who have been playing over in Europe during the lockout, but there are still the newly acquired players, like Tanner Glass, who need to be incorporated into team dynamics on and off the ice. They have yet to play with any of the new teammates, let alone get used to being on a line with any of them.
However, it looks like the wheels have already been set in motion for the Penguins to start on an unwavering path to become a cohesive team ready to seriously compete for the Stanley Cup despite the lockout and shortened season. Let’s be hopeful that the team’s actions on the ice speak louder than their owners’ words.
Stephanie Lewark is a featured Pittsburgh Penguins columnist for RantSports.com. If you enjoy her articles / posts, you can follow her on Twitter (@steelcitysports), check out her personal Facebook page (via Networked Blogs), visit her personal Tumblr page, or stop by her Pinterest page.