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NHL Lockout Ends, Philly Looks To Flyers Buffalo Sabres chris pronger Claude Giroux Danny Briere Flyers NHL Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby 

NHL Lockout Ends, Philly Looks To Flyers

The National Hockey League and their Players Association have finally come to terms on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) earlier this week.  As the Board of Governors ratifies the terms of the new CBA today and tomorrow, it is expected that the schedule for the 2012-2013 season will be released very shortly after.

After a 113 day lockout, the NHL will create a 48 game season starting next Saturday January 19th, which will force the playoffs into late June.

The NHL is releasing puck size previews of the first few games of the season but they could not be any bigger.  The Philadelphia Flyers will play their first game on Saturday January 19th at 3pm at the Wells Fargo Center against hated rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins.  What a hell of a way to start off the season right?  It’s the least the NHL could do to satisfy the palates of hockey fans around the world after starving them of hockey goodness for months.

It was originally rumored to be a home and home series however CSN confirmed the Flyers second game will be in New York against the Buffalo Sabres at noon the following day.

With a little over a week before the NHL season ultimately begins, the Flyers will have a very short training camp next week and will be hard at work defining their roles in this shortened season.

One who could see a visual change in their role is center Claude Giroux.  It has been rumored and speculated that Giroux would be donning the captain letter “C” on his jersey as previous captain, Chris Pronger, is still on long term injury reserve for a concussion sustained early last season.  It is also being speculated Pronger will never don a Flyers (or any) uniform again.

Giroux’s now infamous “The Shift” took place in game 6 of the Conference Quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, a game which eliminated the Penguins from the playoffs.  Before the game started, Giroux told Coach Peter Laviolette, “I don’t know who you’re planning on starting tonight, but I want that first shift.”  Shortly after, and right before the puck dropped, Giroux skated over to the Flyers bench and motioned for teammate Danny Briere.  “Watch this shift”, was all Giroux said.

As the puck dropped and made its way to Penguins star Sidney Crosby, just six seconds into the game, Giroux leveled Crosby sending a thunderous roar throughout the sold out Wells Fargo Center.  Twenty six seconds later Giroux fired a shot from the point that beat Goalie Marc Andre Fluery en route to a 5-1 romp, sending the Flyers to the Conference Quarterfinals.

It is a defining moment in all of Philadelphia sports and topped many lists for best Philly sports moment of last year.  Giroux’s leadership, determination, fire, energy, whatever you want to call it resonates so well with Philly fans that it is hard to imagine him not receiving the coveted Captain status that has been rumored in this extended offseason.

An extra piece of fabric sewed onto his jersey or not, one has to be excited with the return of the Philadelphia Flyers in a year that has been less than ideal for Philadelphia sports.  The Phillies failed to make the playoffs for the first time in several years.  The Eagles were an abysmal 4-12 and saw the firing of longtime coach Andy Reid.  And the 76ers are without their star player Andrew Bynum, who was acquired in a blockbuster trade last year, because of knee surgery.

Hockey is back.  The Flyers are back.  Philly fans, it’s time to get excited again!

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