The NHL lockout is over. After 119 days, it finally came to an end Saturday night as the league and NHL Players’ Association signed the memorandum of understanding.
The schedule was released just before 11 p.m. The Washington Capitals open the 48-game regular season Jan. 19 at the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I think personally I’d rather start at home just because we don’t have to use that extra day to travel it’d be nice to be able to stay here and get a game under our belt before we have to hit the road,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “[But] guys might be too excited for that first one.”
No doubt adrenaline will still be flowing when the Caps return to the District for their home opener Jan. 22 at Verizon Center against the Winnipeg Jets. They’ll host the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 24 before visiting the defending Eastern Conference-champion New Jersey Devils.
The Caps will see Alexander Semin and the Carolina Hurricanes five times this season, including three times at home. They play Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins just once at Verizon Center, but it’s on Super Bowl Sunday.
Perhaps the most interesting quirk of the schedule is back-to-back games at the Jets on March 21 and 22. The Caps finish the regular season on a three-game home stand.
Before the NHL schedule was released, the league put out the summary of the new collective bargaining agreement. Among the changes are the implementation of year-round random drug testing and fines of $10,000 and $15,000 available for on-ice infractions. The previous maximum was $2,500.