Not long after midnight Sunday, a couple of hours after the lockout officially ended, NHL clubs were free to start making personnel moves and orchestrate trades.
A few did, but the Penguins so far have been observers and listeners.
"We've been involved just a little bit, just to make sure what's going on around the league," general manager Ray Shero said later Sunday. "There really hasn't been that much. It's been so quick. We got the memo [Saturday] night maybe around 10:30 or so that everything was agreed to.
"Everyone will be in full gear this week. There have been some roster moves and trades. It should be interesting with waivers and other trades, other roster moves by the time you have to set your roster by Friday at 3 p.m."
There are nine defensemen in training camp, eight of whom would need to be exposed to waivers before they could be assigned to the American Hockey League. Simon Despres is the exception.
That gives the Penguins a glut at that position. Most teams keep seven defensemen in-season.
"They will have to sort themselves out," Shero said. "It will be up to the coaching staff who they want to start with. There's a possibility we could start the year with eight defensemen. I'm pretty certain we're not starting with nine."
A crowded practice
Shero spoke with reporters shortly before the team had its first post-lockout practice.
That meant that coaches were once again allowed to oversee the skate -- the team members who skated at Southpointe during the lockout ran practices themselves with no whistles.
The stands were packed to overflowing, and so was the restaurant that overlooks the ice. It was a vocal group. As they were finishing, the players raised their sticks to acknowledge the faithful, who responded with an ovation and a chant of "Let's go Pens."
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun, acquired in June after spending four of the past five seasons with Florida, said he didn't think the Panthers would ever draw such a crowd for a practice.
"That definitely wouldn't happen," he said. "I know the fans are great here from playing here."
The Penguins invited 26 players to camp, including six who spent the lockout playing in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL.
They are forwards Eric Tangradi, Beau Bennett and Jayson Megna, and defensemen Simon Despres, Brian Strait and Robert Bortuzzo.
No junior players were invited for the lockout-shortened camp.
The Penguins are opening training camp to the fans. There will be practices at noon today, 11 a.m. Tuesday and 11 a.m. Friday, all at Consol Energy Center.
The team will hold a Black and Gold scrimmage at 7 p.m. Wednesday, staying as close to game conditions as possible. That also will have free admission at the arena.
Thursday will be an off day.
The players underwent annual physicals before practice. Shero said no injuries or problems were discovered. ... Shero said nothing jumps out at him in the new collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association that raises concern for this shortened season, but he noted that "every team has a conference call with the league, and we have ours next week, so any questions we can flesh out at that point." ... Vokoun, on learning his way around Pittsburgh: "I got a GPS. Literally, when I go for gas, I use my navigation. But it will come."
First Published January 14, 2013 5:00 AM