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Joe Chacon's Blog
The NHL is Returning, Are You? Stuck
Posted on January 7, 2013 at 11:17 AM.

As you know by now the NHL and the NHLPA have reached a tentative agreement, ending a long and drawn out labor dispute which nearly wiped away another season.

The season will either consist of 50 games and begin on January 15, or 48 games with a start date of January 19. It is also widely speculated that the truncated schedule will feature matchups only within the team's respective conference.

The main bullet point of the agreement is such that owners and players agreed to a 50-50 split of all hockey-related revenue. The owners and players also agreed to drop the salary cap to $64.3 million in 2013-14 from $70.2 million this season.

It remains to be seen if the NHL will continue with the momentum they were gaining before the lockout. NHL revenues have increased each year since the last lockout, which caused the loss of an entire season (2004-05).

From where I sit, I didn't sense the same hostility towards the NHL players from fans as I did during the recent NBA and NFL lockouts. After it was all said and done, those fans came back to support their teams.

If I had to bet, I'd say the fans are going to return and the NHL will continue to see solid attendance numbers from across the league -- except in Phoenix, of course.

OS Voice: Did the NHL lockout alter your level of support for the NHL?

Joe Chacon is a staff writer for Operation Sports and a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeChacon.
# 1 GlennN @ Jan 7
The casual fan will take a while (if ever) to come back, but I am a (foolish) diehard fan and will be back watching on day one (I will not, however, buy a ticket to a single game this year, so at least I have some dignity!
# 2 FBeaule04 @ Jan 7
I'm a die hard hockey fan, but after 3 months of being laught at, no way I'm going back. Until Bettman resigned or get fired as NHL Commish, it's a no go for me!
# 3 rynecandy @ Jan 7
I won't come back as a paying fan....have to call DTV and cancel Center Ice before the season starts. If I want to watch a game, I'll catch it online.
# 4 thbends @ Jan 7
Had the season been cancelled I would have walked away for a while. With it returning I'll be at the first game. Go STARS!!!!
# 5 Bmore Irish @ Jan 7
I definitely feel like it's the die hard fans who are more miffed about this. A lot of casual fans wait til Stanley cup playoffs to tune in anyway. I'll probably realize how glad I am that hockey is back once football is over, even if the product on the ice is diminished
# 6 SuperKyle @ Jan 7
I'll be watching every Lightning game on TV, and might attend one or two this year. I've never been a season ticket holder, and usually only attend 1 or 2 a year. So, little to no change for me.
# 7 bwiggy33 @ Jan 7
Hockey is my life no question. I am ecstatic its back. As much as I want to stick it up their a$$, the hardcore hockey fan in me just probably won't do it. I just miss the game too much and ultimately I honestly think that's what will happen with most people. It's our nature to say hey I'm not watching or buying anything from them again, but in all reality people who absolutely love the sport will not stick to it. I watch enough college hockey but nothing honestly compares to the speed, creativity, and pure amazingness of the best players in the world. Even though people can hate the NHL, they are going to miss how good these guys really are.

On another somewhat comparable note, if some of these Russians eventually choose to play in Russia after their NHL contracts are up, they will come running back to the NHL two years later because the talent gap is so large. It's just like us fans. You can only watch college, junior, AHL, etc for so long. For those players they can only dominate or play SEL, DEL, SM Liga, and KHL so long before they get bored of not playing against the best players. That is if they are true competitors. Either way I don't really care if they come back or not. Many of them do a disservice to the game.
# 8 Mikey88 @ Jan 10
Im coming back for sure. Love the game too much to let the suits ruin it for me.
# 9 18 eighty 5 @ Jan 16
I am not going to see any NHL games this season...mainly because I live in Australia. Otherwise, wooooooo hockey is back!!
# 10 WildVikingFox @ Jan 19
Honestly, kind of. I've gotten into the SCSU Huskies so much without the NHL going, and just can't get into the NHL as much anymore. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a hardcore Hockey Fan and will continue to support the NHL and Wild, but I just love NCAA Hockey more now that I've gotten into it.
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