Although NHL players are locked out of training camps, which were scheduled to open Friday, captain Ryan Callahan and about a dozen Rangers are expected to report for a practice at the MSG Training Center in Greenburgh, N.Y.
The differences: They've rented the ice to skate on their own, as they have several times recently, a team spokesman confirmed Thursday. And coach John Tortorella and his staff won't be there directing them through the grueling conditioning drills that have been the benchmark for the first days of camp.
The players also are restricted in other ways: They have access to the smaller auxiliary locker room, but the main dressing room, the weight room and the dining facilities are off limits, and the workout is closed to the media.
Welcome to the latest chapter in Lockout 2012, with no negotiations between the league and union scheduled as of Thursday night, and teams' rosters splintered. Some stars have signed deals with Russian and European teams and others are preparing to report to minor-league camps, which open next weekend.
Many of the Rangers have been working out together since the bargaining talks dissolved, but if the lockout drags on, some may choose to leave the area. Goaltender Martin Biron has skated with some Sabres near his home in Buffalo. Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist tweeted that he plans to stay in New York for a few weeks, then perhaps visit family and friends back in Sweden.
Others have already decided where to land.
Rick Nash, the elite winger and centerpiece of the team's offseason moves, intends to sign with HC Davos of the Swiss League when issues involving insurance and transfer papers are resolved. Nash, along with center Joe Thornton, starred for Davos during the 2004-05 lockout.
Younger players won't be as far afield. Top prospects, including forward Chris Kreider, the Boston College star who had an outstanding debut in the playoffs; J.T. Miller, the team's No. 1 pick in 2011, and Christian Thomas will attend camp with the AHL's Hartford Whale next weekend. All were expected to begin competing for a spot on the Rangers' roster in Greenburgh Friday.
What next? It depends.
On Wednesday, the NHL canceled preseason games through Sept. 30, including the first three on the Rangers' schedule, and the remaining three games (Oct. 4 against the Islanders in Uniondale, Oct. 6 against Colorado in Kansas City, Mo., and Oct. 8 in Los Angeles) are likely to be axed sometime next week. The start of the season, Oct. 11, remains in jeopardy.