With just 48 games on the docket, the 2013 NHL season will be a sprint to the playoffs. But few truly know what to expect from a condensed schedule better than the seven active and noninjured players—goalie Martin Brodeur, defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Roman Hamrlik, and forwards Jaromir Jagr, Alex Kovalev, Teemu Selanne and Ray Whitney—who went through the truncated 1994--95 season, which was likewise shortened to 48 games after a lockout. Four share their memories and the wisdom of their years.
"Physically I don't remember it being much of a drag, but then again, I was 22. The short season makes it fun. Every game has importance, and for players it's fun when games count. Under Jacques [Lemaire] in '95, we were a team that was really well-structured. When you stay in every single game and play for that short a period of time, it's important not getting blown out. You just keep going and get your points."
"The start is really crucial for any team right now. If you start winning, you have a good chance. The first 10 or 15 games are really important in a short season because when you play well and get points, you have a chance to make the playoffs. But when you're struggling early in a short season [the Capitals are 1-3-1], it's going to be tougher to catch up."
"It's important to spend your energy wisely [because] when you don't have energy anymore, that's when a lot of injuries come. Your body is just overloading too much. So I think rest is the weapon. The older you get, the smarter you get. Obviously, when you get older, you're going to [be giving up] something when you play against young guys. But hopefully, we are way smarter than those young guys, so we can keep it up."
"I remember there being a lot less practice time because guys were nursing, you know, groin injuries, low back, hip flexors. Just nagging [injuries] where typically your body has a day or two to recover. But with this schedule your body doesn't get a whole lot of time. So guys, especially the older ones, are going to play with groins that are tighter, a little more sore than they're used to."
ED MULHOLLAND/USA TODAY SPORTS (BRODEUR)
JOHN CORDES/ICON SMI (SELANNE)
GREG FIUME/GETTY IMAGES (HAMRLIK)
GENEVIEVE ROSS/AP (WHITNEY)