With the salute of their sticks, the Tampa Bay Lightning thanked the estimated 5,500 fans at their first practice of the season Sunday afternoon, ready to play hockey.
The Lightning opened up its training camp Sunday and decided to head to the Tampa Bay Times Forum to host the first one of the year instead of the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon to give fans some elbow room and plenty of things to do during a Fan Fest from getting autographs to snapping plenty of photos of the team fans missed.
Single-game tickets are on sale, and the team is running a special offer through 11:59 p.m. Monday where they will waive the Ticketmaster fees by using the code FORUM when purchased online.
The team was able to practice Sunday after the National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players Association signed a memorandum of understanding late Saturday night to make sure both sides understand—in legalese and all—what the functions are of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
All that means to fans is that training camp was able to open Sunday morning and the full 48-game schedule was released late Saturday night.
Now that the 113-day lockout is officially over, it's time for the team to get up to speed and prepare for the season opener Saturday at home against the Washington Capitals.
The Lightning is moving its training camp to Estero's Germain Arena, home of the ECHL Florida Everblades, for Monday through Thursday before returning to the Forum on Friday. Practice starts at 6:15 p.m. today in Estero, then 10:30 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday. Friday's practice is at 11:30 a.m., and free lunch will be provided to fans on the plaza.