National Hockey League players and fans excited to have lockout over and look forward to season starting.
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, UNITED STATES (JANUARY 6, 2013) National Hockey League owners and players were racing back to work on Sunday (January 6) after reaching a tentative agreement on a new labor deal but it is uncertain if frustrated fans will be as quick to return to the arenas.
After four work stoppages in 20 years, including the 113-day lockout that ended with a 10-year deal on Sunday, fans appeared mixed on whether to forgive or punish both sides for dragging them through another labor dispute.
But while fans flooded social media networks to express a mixture of joy and anger, NHL players could not hold back their excitement at returning to the ice after nearly four months of bitter wrangling.
With talks unraveling and the NHL on the verge of canceling the season, the lockout ended with the help of a U.S. federal mediator who enticed the two parties back to the bargaining table for a final push to make a deal.
"Obviously it's a good time for the players, the fans, the owners, to know that hockey is back on the ice," said Montreal Canadians defenseman P.K. Subban, who spent his time practicing at home in Canada.
As news of an agreement spread, the hundreds of players who chose to ride out the bitter dispute playing in European leagues immediately began making plans to rejoin their NHL clubs for an abbreviated training camp.
The kind of welcome players receive when the puck finally drops on an abbreviated season is certain to be mixed with some fans calling for boycotts while others line up to buy tickets.
"Glad to see a deal between the NHL players and the league. Great news for hockey fans and communities across Canada." Harper tweeted.
Many teams, particularly those based in the United States, are bracing for fan backlash while owners and players begin to calculate the damage done by the lockout.
The goal now for both the league and players will be to minimize the damage, extending an olive branch with a promise to reward fans patience by deliver some exciting hockey.
"We hope that the people that are still bitter forgive and I'm hoping we can put a good product on the ice and be exciting so that we win them back ," said Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer.
The dispute, which the league has said was costing it about $18-$20 million a day, began in mid-September when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired with both sides at odds over how to split the NHL's $3.3 billion in revenue.