ARLINGTON, Va. – NHL owners and players alike would like nothing more than to move on from the 113-day lockout and put their differences aside.
Washington Capitals alternate player rep Troy Brouwer admits that may be easier said than done.
“There’s probably going to be some ill feelings,” Brouwer said Wednesday following an informal skate with 14 of his teammates at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
“It’s hard not to when all you want to do is play hockey and you’re being locked out. But at the same time, it’s a business. They were trying to better their business. We’re trying to help because we are a big part of the whole industry … You’ve kind of got to shrug it off a little bit, but it’s still going to linger there.”
The NHL’s Board of Governors ratified the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday afternoon while the NHLPA is expected to the same by Saturday.
Once the CBA is officially ratified, the NHL will release a 48-game schedule for each of the league’s 30 teams. The regular season is expected to begin on Saturday, Jan. 19.
Brouwer was not among the eight Capitals who spent at least some time playing overseas during the lockout, but the 27-year-old had a pretty good reason for wanting to stay at his Chicago home.
Brouwer became a first-time father in October when he and wife Carmen welcomed a baby girl to their family.
“She’s so much fun to be around,” Brouwer said. “Having the lockout was really no fun and it sucked, but the timing of the whole thing, I guess, to be able to be around for the first couple months of Kylie’s life, it was really special. I got to see a lot of things that I may have missed being on the road.”
Brouwer’s family is expected to join him in the D.C. area next week.
Like Brouwer, forward Matt Hendricks also spent much of the lockout at his offseason home in Minnesota.
Hendricks was ice fishing over the weekend on Mille Lacs Lake in Northern Minnesota when he received the news early Sunday morning that the NHL lockout was over.
“[Teammate Jason] Chimera texts me at five in the morning and I looked at it and said ‘Ah – you’re kidding me! What’s this guy doing [awake] right now?!’ I packed up [from the lake house] and came home and started packing up to come out here.”
With Brouwer and Hendricks both returning to the Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday, a total of 15 players were on-hand for an informal skate.
Among the Caps who have either not yet returned to the D.C. area or skated at KCI are forwards Nicklas Backstrom, Joey Crabb, Brooks Laich, Joel Ward and Wojtek Wolski, defensemen Roman Hamrlik, Tom Poti and Cam Schilling and goalie Michal Neuvirth.
According to multiple reports, training camp is expected to open Sunday.