The agreement is there, now we're waiting for approval of the deal that would bring NHL hockey back. That approval has to come from the league's 30 owners and the membership of the players' union. In the meantime, for players, it's back to work. YNN's Don Heins was with some of the Sabres as they practiced Monday, and has their reaction to the news.
AMHERST, N.Y. — With the NHL lockout set to end, fans are feeling both excitement that hockey's coming back, but also frustration of how it could have possibly taken this long for the sides to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.
As a lot of players begin to return to Buffalo, skating with the group that's been skating here in Amherst for the length of the lockout, a lot of players are starting to feel the same way.
Tyler Ennis, Mike Weber, Steve Ott, even Marty Biron were back on the ice. Nine players in all, working out, getting ready for an abbreviated training camp.
Now, players are sticking to their guns. But there's no doubt that they feel this lockout didn't need to happen, and didn't need to take so long.
"I think this whole lockout was stupid. I think it should have been settled, obviously, before the season. We should've played 82 games. But, you can't change the past. You move on. Do I like what happened? No. But again, it is what it was. It's sad. And I'm just glad that we settled and can at least play hockey this year," said left wing Thomas Vanek.
"I know the fans in Buffalo are the best in the league. Whether it's Bills, whether it's Sabres. Whatever sport it is, they always back us the best around. I look forward to stepping on the ice and hearing 19 – 20,000 fans again," said forward Patrick Kaleta.
To update the formalities in ending the NHL lockout, the NHL's board of governors will be meeting on Wednesday. They're expected to ratify the agreement; supposed to be little more than a rubber stamp for the process.
All reports say the training camps will start to open on this coming Saturday, and that the league is targeting Saturday the 19th as the start date.