Members of the Boston Bruins have been in Wilmington for informal skates in recent days. It may, however, be the last time they're in town for the near future.
The team took to the ice at as recently as Friday, but as of midnight on Saturday the NHL's Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. A work stoppage is likely to occur if a new deal is not reached prior to that deadline.
According to Joe Haggerty of Comcast SportsNet New England, the team is slated to take the weekend off from practicing before finding a new sheet of ice next week.
The reason the team must find a new venue is that they are locked out and barred from the ice and locker rooms at Ristuccia until the lockout ends, according to Haggerty.
“We all want to play. We all love hockey. It’s our job," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara told CSNNE.com. "But we also have to play under certain rules and it has to make sense for us. We’ll continue to train and skate while keeping ourselves in shape.”
Even before the labor dispute, the team's future in Wilmington was up in the air. This is the last season the team is under contract at Ristuccia, and for a practice facility for when the lease is up.
As recently as during the team's annual Development Camp in July, in Wilmington.
But for now, the more important item on the agenda for the Bruins is avoiding a prolonged work stoppage and getting back to practices at Ristuccia Arena this fall.
"None of us were really expecting it to get this far," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said, according to CSNNE.com. "But now it’s more of a reality."