For the first time in nearly four months, members of the New York Rangers were able to skate wearing the red, white and blue.
The team held an optional skate this afternoon at its Westchester practice facility, which was attended by 15 Blueshirt, including Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan and Marc Staal.
“It’s one thing to be out skating and wondering when things are going to happen,” Nash told reporters after the skate. “But it’s a lot different out there skating and knowing the season’s going to come. It seems like everybody had a little extra jump.”
In addition to the players, head coach John Tortorella was also present for the skate. He said the team would "be prepared" for the start of the season, which is expected to begin on Jan. 19. According to Blueshirts United, he even admitted to missing the players.
Training camp is expected to officially begin this Saturday after both the NHL and the players' association ratify the collective bargaining agreement that was agreed to on Saturday morning, followed by a 48-game schedule starting a week later.
The fact the NHL will be back within the next two weeks still feels surreal, but watching video and reading quotes from an actual Rangers practice is making this feel more real.
There's no doubt this will be a sprint to the finish, and it appears players understand that and are ready for the challenge.