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News from Thursday's practice

Big doings in Pantherland on Thursday -- OK, there were a few things going on.

Auld_2 After Thursday's practice, the final of training camp, Jacques Martin announced Alex Auld would start in goal for Friday's season opener against Boston. It's not sure who will start in net Saturday in Atlanta, although folks around the team tell me its a mortal lock that Ed Belfour starts Monday in Toronto. Martin did say the decision could have gone either way, but Auld's shutout against Atlanta being a decisive factor on getting the opening night start. He wouldn't comment on who starts Saturday.

Belfour_1 Also, Martin announced the four alternate captains, three of which retain their A from last year: Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts, Chris Gratton and newbie Martin Gelinas. I jokingly asked if Olli Jokinen retained his captainship and that gave a nice laugh to Martin. "I could have really pulled a fast one on you there,'' he said.

Speaking of Nieuwendyk, the center returned to the ice Friday after taking Wednesday off. On Tuesday, Nieuwendyk took a hard spill on the ice and got up gingerly and cringing from what is probably back pain. But after getting treatment, he looks fine. He's a tough fella.

Will have a few more things -- and extended stuff on Auld's opening start -- in Friday's editions of the Herald. Good stuff too. Don't miss it.