Will local hockey fans embrace the return of the NHL?
Published Monday, January 7, 2013 6:46PM AST
Last Updated Monday, January 7, 2013 6:47PM AST
Although there is a tentative agreement to end the lengthy National Hockey League lockout, it is still to be determined whether Maritime fans will re-embrace the game.
“I could care less,” says lifelong hockey fan Gerry Webster. “I really could not care less. I hope people don’t go near the rink. They’re millionaires squabbling with billionares.”
“I’m glad it is over,” says fan David Ramsey. “I didn’t take any sides. I thought they were all pretty greedy about the whole thing, but I’m glad it’s over.”
While fans have been the big losers during the work stoppage, the lockout has produced at least one upside in Saint John.
The Saint John Sea Dogs benefited from the lockout by having the NHL-calibre captain Jonathan Huberdeau with them for half a season.
Huberdeau was supposed to play with the Florida Panthers but was sent back to Saint John for the duration of the lockout. Officials are now waiting for final word from Florida on whether he will return.
“He is Florida Panther property and we were certainly told that if the lockout ended, that Jonathan would be in Florida, so we’re certainly expecting that,” says Sea Dogs president Wayne Long.
With a tentative agreement reached, it appears the best NHL fans can hope for is a 48-game season.
“Hopefully, within a very few days, the fans can get back to watching people who are skating, not the two of us,” says NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr.
“The fans, we’ll all come back,” says Don Pierce. “They will lose no money on revenue because the fans will all come back, because we love hockey.”
A number of NHL teams are trying to patch things up with fans, including the Pittsburgh Penguins. Owner Mario Lemieux issued a statement today, apologizing to fans for the lockout.
Details are still being ironed out but it appears the season will begin on Jan. 19.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Mike Cameron