NHL shows fans refuse to get iced out of action

Relieved fans push past labor strife, return to NHL in record numbers at rinks and in ratings

Associated Press
NHL shows fans refuse to get iced out of action
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A fan holds a sign "We Missed You," in the second period of an NHL hockey game with the Washington Capitals against the Winnipeg Jets Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The boycotts were threatened. The irate tweets were posted.

NHL fans were fed up with labor strife updates and they weren't coming back to the sport they loved once the lockout was lifted.

Except that they did. In most homes and arenas, they came in record numbers, unable to stay away for that first faceoff.

The fans partied in Nashville, Tenn., where $1 hot dogs helped woo Predators fans back to Bridgestone Arena.

In Ohio, the Columbus Blue Jackets came on the ice for warmups wearing jerseys numbered 1 with "Thank You Fans" printed where the player's name is. The jerseys were then given to fans.

In Philadelphia, a city that hasn't sniffed a Stanley Cup parade since 1975, a record 19,994 fans showed up for the season opener against Pittsburgh.

In short, the support — like the game itself — is back.

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