A couple of important notes for Tampa Bay Lightning fans who wish to check out practice, and the schedule of things the next few days:
If you have plans to go see the Lightning players skate at Brandon Ice Sports Forum tomorrow (Saturday, January 12th), it'd best for you to cancel them right now. Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reported that the Bolts will not be skating at Ice Sports Forum tomorrow.
Bright and early tomorrow morning, the NHL Players Association is supposed to vote on the new CBA (which was ratified on Wednesday by the NHL Board of Governors). Once this ratification takes place, we're truly back to business-as-usual in the NHL. This brings me back to the point above that players won't be skating at Ice Sports Forum; my guess is that some official testing and conversation between players and coaches will be taking place at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It's a usual part of training camp anyway, something that hasn't been allowed to happen before the CBA has been ratified by both the NHL and NHLPA. This is just a guess though, perhaps they're just getting a day off?
Saturday morning will also see the National Hockey League releases its full schedule to the masses around 9 AM. We're already aware the Bolts should open the season at home against the Washington Capitals next Saturday (January 19th). The full 48-game slate will feature only contests between the Lightning and Eastern Conference opponents.
On Sunday, January 14th, camp opens at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Yes, it's open to the public. In fact, the Lightning are treating it like a Fan Fest. How so? Well, they put out an official release saying there would (in fact) be a fan fest at the Forum to coincide Camp:
The 2013 Lightning Fan Fest is free and is open to the public. The doors will open at 9 a.m. Fans should park in either the Forum East or Forum West Lot and enter through the main entrance. Lightning players will sign autographs for fans from 10-11 a.m. They will then head back to the locker room and get ready as Guy Boucher will lead the first practice of the season from 12:30-2 p.m. Between the autograph session and practice there will be commentary provided by Bolts management, coaches and broadcasters. ThunderBug and the Lightning Girls will also be on hand.
Season Ticket Members will receive a number of benefits just by wearing their STM jersey. They will receive free parking as well as exclusive autograph opportunities on the Club Level. Fan Fest is also a great opportunity for Season Ticket Members to redeem their loyalty and rewards program benefits or pick up their STM jersey if they haven't done so already.
In addition to meeting the team and watching the first practice of the season, those in attendance will have the first opportunity to purchase single-game tickets. They will receive 50 percent off select Lightning merchandise at open merchandise stores throughout the event and have access to food and drink specials. There will also be enter win contests throughout the event.
Practice will again be open to the public on Monday, January 14th at the Tampa Bay Times Forum before The team will then head south to Estero to practice at Germain Arena in for much of the week. The full schedule of practice in both Tampa and Estero can be found here.