Washington Capitals general manager David Poile called the new Piney Orchard Ice Arena in Odenton the team's best off-season acquisition in his nine years on the job.
Right wing Dino Ciccarelli agrees.
"It has all the amenities of a top-notch health club," said Ciccarelli on Saturday after the first day of training camp at the facility in Anne Arundel County.
"And I won't have to fight traffic on the [Woodrow Wilson] bridge and the [Capital] Beltway for more than an hour to get here," he said of his commute from his home near Annapolis to the old practice site in Alexandria, Va.
"I used to leave home at 8 in the morning for an 11 o'clock practice," Ciccarelli said. "You never know what the traffic is going to be like. I wouldn't get back home until 3 o'clock [in the afternoon], making for a long day."
This season, Ciccarelli will spend a lot less time on the highway and a lot more time at state-of-the-art Piney Orchard working out, getting treatment for injuries and viewing videotapes of games.
"It's going to be fun getting in shape here," he said. "Well, it's never fun getting in shape, but this is the best place to do it."
With his shorter commute, Ciccarelli will have an average of three more hours a day to spend on conditioning.
Like many Capitals, Ciccarelli is moving closer to Piney Orchard.
"I'm building a new home in Davidsonville, which is about 10 minutes from here," he said. "A lot of guys are going to live in Davidsonville and Crofton. That way, we can spend more time at home and at the arena. If we want to go to lunch with a player, it will be a lot simpler now. Last year, I lived 1 1/2 hours from Kelly Miller. Guys were spread out from McLean, Va., to Edgewater."
Capitals coach Terry Murray sees his players rebounding more quickly from injuries, since Piney Orchard always will be available and close to home.
"Guys can come right in for treatment after getting home from a road trip," he said. "How do you measure points in the standings? But I have to think that over the long haul it will help us and make us a closer team."
Murray said his players are "excited and happy" coming to Piney Orchard to work out, and that is a welcome sight for him.
One glance at the posh players' lounge is enough to see why the Capitals will enjoy coming to work this season.
There is a large screen for watching videotapes, sofas and chairs all around, plush carpeting and all the luxuries of home.
For training, there is a large weight room, areas for medical treatment, therapy, rehabilitation and video editing, separate locker rooms for the Capitals and Baltimore Skipjacks, and an NHL regulation-size ice surface of 80-by-200 feet.
"Piney Orchard will mean the same thing to the Capitals that Redskin Park does to the Redskins," Poile said.
NOTES: Friday night, the Capitals will open their preseason schedule with a game against Team USA at Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, N.Y.