The NHL lockout is over…finally. After 113 days of the owners locking out the players, they finally came to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. It couldn’t have happened soon enough for Minnesota hockey fans.
After an offseason of front page moves, Wild owner Craig Leipold has had to wait through the delay to see how his aggressive signings would pay off. Leipold ponied up $198 million for free agent Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to join our club on the ice. As everyone in Minnesota eagerly awaited the start to the season to watch our new high-flying team, the lockout made us all painfully wait for the first game.
“Everyone in our organization, the players, the fans were really excited in the summer,” goalie Niklas Backstrom said. “This lockout hurts everyone. Everything was going our way in the summer with the moves we were making. It’s something we can’t really do anything about. It’s in the past. We have to get ready and get back on the ice and start playing.”
It’s about time! That’s what every Minnesota Wild fan is thinking right now. No one has suffered the excruciating pain of the lockout more than the local businesses in downtown St. Paul.
“The lockout has had a dramatic impact on our business,” Joe Kasel and Kevin Geisen, co-owners of Eagle Street Bar and Grille across the street from Xcel Energy, said in a joint statement. “We took the difficult, yet appropriate, measures to ensure our business’s survival through this difficult time. Our staff and our customers are like family to us, we can’t wait to have our hockey family back.”
“This New Year’s Eve was probably the worst one we’ve had in 15 years,” said Laurie Malmgren, manager of Sakura, a sushi restaurant in downtown St. Paul. The Wild typically play a New Year’s Eve game every season, but the tradition was halted this year due to the lockout. Local businesses saw a dramatic drop in revenue as they sadly brought in the new year.
But the dropping revenue numbers for local businesses and the cancelled games for fans are over. We finally get to see the impact our hot new acquisitions will make to our team. Months from now, we may be talking about the playoffs. Right now, however, we’re simply ready to hit the ice again.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Pat Boemer, owner of Patrick McGovern’s Pub & Restaurant on West Seventh Street. “It will be great for the avenue and the whole downtown.”
It’ll be great for the entire state of Minnesota.