(Eds: APNewsNow.)
By DAN GELSTON
AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Flyers owner Ed Snider had a simple message on the day the NHL lockout ended:
Welcome back.
Welcome back, NHL.
Welcome back, NHL fans.
Lost in the squabble between the league and players over the 113-day labor dispute was how the hardcore fans were losing interest with each messy board room update from an idle sport. Keeping the faith turned into planning boycotts. The Winter Classic gave way to the winter doldrums for even the most passionate fans in hockey-mad markets.
One of the questions that arises now, of course, and after any sort of stoppage for that matter, is will the fans come back? This is the third labor dispute in Commissioner Gary Bettman's tenure, and though the fans returned in the past, the jury is out this time.

Featured Picks From The Insiders

View All Picks
Advertisement

Top NHL Public Bets

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Stamkos staying with Tampa The biggest prize in NHL free agency has elected to stay home, as Steven Stamkoshas signed a new deal with the Tampa Bay...
Thumbnail Stanley Cup Game 6 Pick The San Jose Sharks hope to force a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight...
Thumbnail Stanley Cup Final Game 5 Pick Will the Pittsburgh Penguins close out the Stanley Cup Final tonight when they host the San Jose Sharks in...
Thumbnail Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Pick Can the San Jose Sharkseven up the Stanley Cup Finalwhen they host the Pittsburgh Penguins...
Thumbnail Penguins vs. Sharks Game 3 Pick Can the San Jose Sharks get on the board in the Stanley Cup Final when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 at...
More inNHL Articles  
Advertisement

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Stamkos staying with Tampa The biggest prize in NHL free agency has elected to stay home, as Steven Stamkoshas signed a new deal with the Tampa Bay...
Thumbnail Stanley Cup Game 6 Pick The San Jose Sharks hope to force a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight...
Thumbnail Stanley Cup Final Game 5 Pick Will the Pittsburgh Penguins close out the Stanley Cup Final tonight when they host the San Jose Sharks in...
Thumbnail Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Pick Can the San Jose Sharkseven up the Stanley Cup Finalwhen they host the Pittsburgh Penguins...
Thumbnail Penguins vs. Sharks Game 3 Pick Can the San Jose Sharks get on the board in the Stanley Cup Final when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 3 at...
More inNHL Articles  

Featured Picks From The Insiders

View All Picks

NHL Team Pages