With the lockout lifted, and a regular season of 48 games set to begin this month, the Rangers have a little less than a week to get themselves and their players organized for the start of a very brief training camp.
For the first time since late May, the Rangers will be together preparing for NHL competition.
The sudden end to the lockout and the rush to have a season are great because very soon we will be talking about scores, players and highlights rather than CBA jargon, but the shortened training camp will mean some younger players will not get a fair chance to make an NHL team and I'm betting that lots of veterans show up out of shape.
Now that Commissioner Gary Bettman and his clan of owners are allowing this abridged season to happen, it will be interesting to see how much, if any, the fans will revolt against the greed of the league.
Keep an eye on those flash sale websites because there should be lots of cheap tickets available for most NHL teams.
Because of their loyal and massive fanbase, the Rangers will probably still sellout MSG. Here's a quick look at five pieces of unfinished business before the Rangers start their 2013 season:
Way back in August 2012, 22-year-old Michael Del Zotto was trying to get a new contract with the Rangers.
The Rangers had all the leverage because of the impending lockout, so Del Zotto, not wanting to sign for less than his perceived value under the old CBA, decided to go play professionally in Switzerland until the lockout ended. A risky move considering he didn't have an NHL contract at the time, thus creating a big risk if he got injured.
But Del Zotto didn't hurt himself, the lockout ended and a very short NHL free agency period is about to begin.
Del Zotto is the Rangers best offensive defenseman, and at only 22, he's valuable to the franchise. Del Zotto is a restricted free agent so other teams can make offers which the Rangers can match, but the market will tell Del Zotto that he is not worth more than $3 million per season and returning to the Rangers is the best move for him.
Here's a detailed look at Del Zotto's contract situation as it relates to the new salary cap.
The rookie sensation that made headlines during the 2012 playoffs will be with the Rangers in training camp.
Kreider has been disappointing with the AHL CT Whale this season, only producing five goals and seven assists over 33 games. Of course, expectations were so high for Kreider that he almost undoubtedly would have underperformed in the AHL while daydreaming about the NHL glory he nearly found last spring.
Luckily, the Rangers traded for Rick Nash in the offseason so Kreider can develop as a young potential star should, rather than being leaned on for goals.
Marian Gaborik led the Rangers in scoring last season then had serious shoulder surgery on June 6.
The lockout has given Gaborik ample time to rehab his shoulder and he will be at training camp participating in full.
Sometimes players come up even stronger after major surgeries and sometimes they are never the same. Gaborik turns 30 in February. We will have to wait and see how that shoulder is moving and hope that the Rangers are getting back a deadly goalscorer with a few years left on the tank.
J.T. Miller just won a gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship and was one of the tournament's most outstanding players, contributing nine points and plus-5 rating over seven games.
Miller has also been productive for the CT Whale this season, with 14 points over 26 games.
Miller deserves to get a fair chance to make the Rangers but he won't this season.
Because of the shortened training camp and the reduced pool of invited players, Miller will be sent back to the CT Whale for the start of the season, according to Larry Brooks.
Miller will still have opportunities throughout the season to get promoted to the Rangers, it just won't happen for him at the start of training camp.
The first priority is bringing all the players that went to play overseas back quickly.
Among those staying sharp across the Atlantic are Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin, Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan and Michael Del Zotto (who still needs a contract).
Once all the players are back and camp begins, the focus of the Rangers needs to become singular, the Stanley Cup.
Banners commemorating division championships and regular season success are nice but they kind of feel like participation trophies.
The Rangers need to go win the Cup. It may be a shortened season but every team is starting on level ground and the Rangers have the talent, leadership and will to bring their fans a championship in 2013.
Welcome back, hockey. Please stay longer this time.