Colorado Avalanche players take ice as they wait for NHL season to begin

Teams could start playing by Jan. 19

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -  

After 27 hours of exhausting travel as he made his way from Italy to Denver, Matt Duchene was ready for only one thing -- hockey.

Soon after landing back in town, the 21-year-old Colorado Avalanche forward made his way to the rink.

Even in his jet-lagged condition, Duchene was on the ice with 16 of his buddies for an up-tempo scrimmage Tuesday.

And very soon, they could be lacing up their skates in games that count again.

Duchene hustled home when rumblings of an end to the NHL lockout began to surface. He was all set to play back-to-back games with his Swiss team near the Italian border when his agent told him to pack up his bags and return to the Mile High City.

The league has circulated a memo to teams telling them to be ready to play by Jan. 19, the date the shortened season is expected to start.