NHL camps to open Sunday

| Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, 5:44 p.m.

NHL training camps will open Sunday with a Jan. 19 target date to begin a 48-game regular season, league and Players' Association sources said Tuesday.

The Penguins are likely to face the Flyers at Philadelphia in the opener. The afternoon game will be televised nationally either on NBC or on the NBC Sports Network, the sources said.

The Penguins have not played since losing at Philadelphia in Game 6 of a first-round playoff series. That meeting of the Commonwealth Cold War rivals marked the third postseason showdown between the clubs since 2008.

The NHL schedule will not be finalized until a new labor contract is ratified by the NHL and union, league deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an email.

A new 10-year labor contract was agreed to in principle Sunday after a 16-hour bargaining session. That ended a 113-day owners' lockout of players.

The NHL board of governors should complete its vote Wednesday, and the union should wrap up its vote by Saturday, the sources said.

Training camps would begin Sunday with players' medical examinations. Traditionally, clubs do not practice the day of players' physicals.

The Penguins are still determining which, if any, camp practices will be open to the public.

General manager Ray Shero said between 24-26 players will attend the camp. At six days, with possibly only five practice days, this camp will be shorter than a regular training camp by two weeks.

All Penguins players are expected to be available Sunday, including reigning MVP and two-time scoring champion Evgeni Malkin. He has spent the lockout playing for hometown Metallurg Magnitogorsk in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.

Malkin said he would be in Pittsburgh “soon.”

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said an abbreviated camp will force him to monitor players such as Malkin and Sidney Crosby, who spent the work stoppage mostly training with teammates at the club's Southpointe practice facility.

There will be no exhibition games.

“We're going to try and do some type of controlled situations where we go through the details of a game and have scrimmages for the players,” Bylsma said.

“There will be drills we use a little more than on a normal day to get those 5-on-5 battles because we're not going to get those in (exhibition) games. It's not a perfect situation. People are going to have to understand that how we practice in camp is all we're going to get before the season starts.”

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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