The Philadelphia Flyers can report to work today to start preparing for the season, and it’s a good thing, too, because their opening game is suddenly just six days away.
The Flyers announced late Saturday night that they will open their 48-game season at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a nationally televised game at 3 p.m. this upcoming Saturday.
Nearly one week after a tentative labor deal was agreed to by the league and its players, the sides agreed to a required memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Saturday night that truly makes the lockout a thing of the past. The signing of the MOU also paved the way for the NHL to release the long-awaited revised schedule.
Twenty-six of the 30 teams will play Saturday. All games will be intraconference this season.
It took another lengthy negotiation to finally end the four-month lockout. The sides worked on the MOU all week, after a tentative deal was reached last Sunday morning — the 113th day of the lockout — and needed all day Saturday to finish it.
The announcement that the deal was signed came several hours after the union easily ratified the tentative agreement that was reached after an all-night, 16-hour bargaining session last weekend.
The more than 700 union members had a 36-hour window from Thursday night until Saturday morning to vote electronically. The NHL board of governors unanimously approved the deal on Wednesday.
The NHL hoped to open camps today, and that prospect seemed in jeopardy Saturday until the document was signed at 10 p.m. EST.
The new deal is for 10 years, but either side can opt out of it after eight. The previous agreement was in effect for seven seasons.
No preseason games will be played in the seven days before the regular season gets under way.
The Flyers will end their regular season April 28 at Ottawa.
“I’m happy that we’re back to playing hockey,” said Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Flyers, said in a statement on the team’s website. “Our fans have waited a long time, and I want to thank them for staying with us. We can’t wait for the season to start.”
The Flyers also said that the starting time for the Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff, also scheduled for this Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center, has been changed to 8 p.m. Penn State will play the University of Vermont.
NHL teams will only play teams within their respective conferences this season, with an emphasis on divisional matchups. Eighteen of the Flyers’ games will be played against Atlantic Division opponents — the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Pittsburgh. The Flyers will face the Rangers and Devils five times each, the Penguins and Islanders four times apiece.
Philadelphia also will play three games each against teams from the Northeast and Southeast divisions. The Flyers’ schedule will include 10 sets of back-to-back games. Their only break of more than two days will be from March 19-23.
National TV coverage was announced Saturday night, but the Flyers’ local TV schedule was not.
The Flyers will open a short training camp today at Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. All practices are open to the public. They will also hold a public practice at the Wells Fargo Center at 6 p.m. Thursday that is free and open to the public.
Single-game tickets for all 24 Flyers regular-season home games will go on sale on Tuesday at 10 a.m. at ComcastTIX.com, by phone at 1-800-298-4200 or in person at the Wells Fargo Center box office.