The NHL plans to open training camps Sunday and begin a 48-game regular season on Jan. 19, deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Tuesday.

While no league announcement has been made, Daly in an email said that was the "current objective and expectation." The NHL board of governors is expected to ratify the new collective bargaining agreement Wednesday, and the players will likely vote Thursday or Friday to approve the CBA.

The Carolina Hurricanes, like 29 other teams, are ready to go. But amid the excitement about having a hockey season, there's also a stark reminder at Raleigh Center Ice:

Tuomo Ruutu's stall in the RCI locker room sits untouched, his helmet and equipment neatly stored, unused.

The Canes will be without their rugged "sandpaper" forward for three months and possibly longer. Ruutu recently required surgery for a nagging hip ailment, and replacing him among the top six forwards will be one of the team's most pressing needs in training camp and early in the season.

"It's going to be tough without him," Canes captain Eric Staal said. "His physicality is the biggest thing. He brings that edge to the game. He's tough on the forecheck. When he's playing that style of game, he's tough to play against and he's kind of a momentum-builder for your team."

When the Hurricanes traded for center Jordan Staal in June, coach Kirk Muller said he might use the two Staal brothers on the same line. When Carolina then signed free-agent winger Alexander Semin, the former Washington Capitals' sniper, there was talk of those three being on the top line.

But Ruutu's injury changed the Staal-with-Staal part of the equation, Muller said.

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