The long road to opening night on Oct. 4 begins today for th Washington Capitals and the Skipjacks.
The organization will christen the new Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton with a grueling four-week training camp that includes 69 players -- 39 forwards, 23 defensemen and seven goalies.
Plenty of questions remain for both teams.
The Jacks, in particular, should see many new faces with Steve Maltais, Alfie Turcotte, Chris Felix, Thomas Sjogren, Tyler Larter, Kent Paynter, Rob Murray, Bob Joyce and Joel Quenneville all gone. Veteran left wing Steve Seftel remains with the team but is recovering from knee surgery and isn't expected to play until after Christmas.
Names like Simon Wheeldon, Craig Duncanson, Brent Hughes, Brian Sakic and Steve Martel will replace them.
The Caps are looking to see if any of last year's Jacks' players can make the jump to the NHL. Left wing Jeff Greenlaw, center Reggie Savage and goalie Jim Hrivnak will be given every opportunity to make the big team.
The goalie situation also presents some tough choices for Caps coach Terry Murray, who will assisted by Jacks coach Robbie Laird.
Veterans Don Beaupre and Mike Liut proved their value last yearbut Hrivnak and Olaf Kolzig are expected to give them competition. Jacks veteran Shawn Simpson, who is unsigned but has been invited to camp, and Junior graduates Byron Dafoe and Alain Harvey will also be in camp.
It won't take long for the action to begin.
There will be an organizational scrimmage on Tuesday at noon, and the rookie team will travel to Delaware on Wednesday to face the Philadelphia Flyers' rookies. The two teams will meet again at Piney Orchard on Thursday.
All training camp sessions, games and scrimmages at Piney Orchard are open to the public.
The Caps' only preseason game at the Capital Centre will be Sept. 27 against Buffalo.
The Jacks and Caps will hold their annual preseason doubleheader against the Flyers and Hershey Bears the following afternoon and evening at the Baltimore Arena.