SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Pull out your jerseys and grab your tickets. It seems the NHL is about to drop the puck on a new - albeit shortened - season.
Players and owners have reached a tentative agreement after nearly four months of no hockey.
The news of the end 113 day lockout reached fans and businesses just before 5am Sunday morning, bringing long awaited relief for those who have lost profits.
"It's too bad it took this long to get there, but hopefully there is some closure at this stage. It means a lot," said Tom Reid, owner of Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub. "We can start bringing customers and employees back."
Reid's restaurant relies on hockey fans pouring in and out of the arena.
"It affects hundreds of thousands of people. We lost 35 to 45 percent of our business," he says. "And servers and bartenders, we had no hours for them."
The return of NHL hockey to downtown will mean businesses in the area can begin recouping their lockout losses. With 18,000 people packing the Xcel Energy Center on game days, pro hockey is an economic engine for the city of St. Paul.
"This is important for who we are," said Mayor Chris Coleman. "We're just happy that we can get back to playing hockey. We encourage people to cheer on the Wild, but ultimately go to those businesses and help them get back on their feet."
Restaurant and bar owners are preparing for a shortened season to begin in the next two weeks, along with some 500 Xcel Energy Center employees, like Connie MacRostie, a game day usher.
"I'm happy for everyone that will possibly get their jobs back and be able to go on with their lives, and not worry about what will happen tomorrow," said MacRostie.
Winter has finally started for hockey fans of all ages, even for the Spring Lake Park D-Mite players, kindergarteners and first graders who skated into their season without their favorite role models.
"Now we can talk to them about, are you going to watch a Wild game tonight, and things like that, with them not playing, they don't know who they are ," said coach Sean Noble, who said his young players have taken lessons from the lockout.
Sometimes, it just takes a lot of time, and practice.
"They have talked it over with their families and I hope they will do a lot better," said Sophie Shimabukuro, age 6. "I'm going to be watching when they play and I hope they win."
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