NHL's Next Step Is Winning Back Hardened Fans

More than 50 percent of the originally scheduled hockey games have already been cancelled.
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"We are going to be price sensitive," he said. "We are going to try everything we can to get people back. Be good to our existing fans and be great to our existing season-ticket holders, do everything we can to say yes to their requests."

Think slashed ticket prices, giveaways, autograph signings, and all kinds of fan-friendly incentives to return to the rink.

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By late Sunday night, fans had quickly turned Twitter into a fantasy transactions chart, scheming and dreaming of the players that should be offered contract buyouts allowed in the new labor deal by their favorite teams after this season. (Sorry, Ilya Bryzgalov).

The NHL's impending return is welcome news for area businesses and arena workers, as well.

Bill Teague, owner of The Fan Sports Lounge near the American Airlines Center in Dallas, estimated he had lost at least $200,000 in revenue that he won't get back with the delayed start of the hockey season.

"We won't get back the lost games, but we're very excited that they're going to resume playing," he said. "It's very hard for us to survive without the NHL. And obviously we were getting pretty nervous that they might cancel the entire season. We're all kind of up here celebrating today and getting ready to staff up for the start of play in about 10 days."

But, finally, fans can stop thinking about mediators and talking heads dressed in suits. Rather, it's time to get ready for Sid the Kid. It's time for the Los Angeles Kings to go defend the Stanley Cup. It's time to watch your team play, oh, about four times per week.

Sure, the Winter Classic was wiped out. The All-Star game went bust.

But at 48 games, it's still hockey at the highest level.

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AP Sports Writers Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis and Stephen Hawkins in Dallas and Associated Press writer Christopher Sherman in Dallas contributed to this report.

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Follow Dan Gelston at www.twitter.com/APGelston

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