Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk vowed the team will be competitive when they take the ice in a 48-game abbreviated regular season.
The team opened its training camp with a skate that was open to fans Sunday, the day after the lockout officially ended.
Melnyk conceded the lockout was difficult and said he and many other players questioned whether the lockout had to go on as long as it did.
"I wasn't in the negotiating room..who knows what dynamic was going on? This one was the worst [labour disputes] you'd ever see... for it to go that long," he said.
But he said the team's deep farm system and a roster that was mostly active during the work stoppage — 17 of the team's 23 players were playing in competitive leagues — will give his team an edge in a brief but grueling schedule.
"This is going to be a great, great team in the coming years, in the coming years, if not immediately," Melnyk said during a news scrum with reporters.
Training camp opens
Sunday's training camp provided the fans a chance to see the team in action after a long hiatus. It also gave the players a chance to get their game legs back.
"I can't wait to put on a Senators jersey and skate out onto Scotiabank Place and really find out if I'm too old or I can still keep up with these young guys," said team captain Daniel Alfredsson.
The team opens the season in Winnipeg against the Jets on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. ET.
Their first home game is Monday, Jan. 21 against the Florida Panthers. The team said the game will be free for kids 14-and-under with the purchase of an adult ticket. As added incentives for fans, parking will be free in three of the lots (5, 6 and 9), merchandise will be 50 per cent off and popcorn will be a dollar.
Tickets for the first 10 regular-season home games go on sale Monday, Jan. 14.