SAN JOSE -- Like everything else connected with the NHL lately, the planned release Saturday of a lockout-shortened, 48-game schedule became an agonizing process.
Morning became night, but eventually Sharks fans learned that their team would open its season in Calgary on Jan. 20, play in Edmonton two nights later, and then return home to face the Phoenix Coyotes on Jan. 24 for the first of six consecutive games at HP Pavilion.
As expected, players Saturday did ratify the new 10-year labor pact approved by owners earlier in the week. But lawyers still needed to hammer out the language in a memorandum of understanding tied to the agreement. Until that was done shortly before 7:30 p.m. PST, the lockout was not officially over and announcement of the league schedule remained on hold.
Fans weren't the only ones left hanging as without the final piece of the new agreement in place, coach Todd McLellan had no idea whether training camp would start Sunday as planned, or what the rules might be.
"We have three different plans right now," McLellan said late Saturday morning. "We start, everything's normal and away we go. Or there are new transition rules and we're guessing, maybe this happens. Or we may not even get the go ahead to start tomorrow and it might be a different day."
He added: "We will use our time as efficiently as possible and get the most out of it as possible — we just don't know what that time is."
Aware of the schedule before it was officially released, McLellan seemed relieved the task ahead wasn't more daunting.
"It's quirky, but it's not the disaster it could have been," he said.
Here are the highlights of the schedule that keeps all NHL teams inside their own conference:
For the Sharks' complete schedule, go to Scoreboard on page 9.