Some St. Louis Blues fans are overjoyed about the end of the lockout that led to a shortened season. Others are angry about the drawn-out labor quagmire that resulted in the cancellation of nearly half the games.
Still others are somewhere in the middle. The Blues are scheduled to open training camp at 11 a.m. Sunday at Scottrade Center, with the season opener set for Saturday at home against the Detroit Red Wings.
Judging from the enthusiastic crowds at recent informal workouts, fans are ready for hockey to return. But many of these same fans have been hurt by the sport's third lockout under NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
While this one didn't take away an entire season, it still did plenty of damage.
Belleville resident Russ Schwoebel is a big Blues fan and former season-ticket holder. But he feels so angered about the lockout that he will not be attending any games.
"Because I really do believe that a shortened season, due to a lockout by the owners, is only beneficial to the owners who are trying to salvage some form of financial gain on what's left to this season," Schwoebel said. "It's not really for the fans as they want you to believe. They should have canceled the season after January 1 and worked out their differences and gear up for the 2013 -14 full season.
"It just amazes me that the NHLPA and the owners managed to settle their differences a week or so before commissioner Gary Bettman's self-imposed cancellation date of January 11 for the entire season ... just amazing!"
Schwoebel will still follow the team, but won't be parting with any hard-earned cash where the Blues are concerned.
"The owners made me wait three months for hockey and I am going to make the owners wait at least that long before I spend dime on hockey-related revenue," Schwoebel said. "They will not get my $50 for a ticket, $20 to park my car, $10 for a beer, $100 for a jersey and $20 for a cap any time this season.
"It will not make an impact overall, but it sure will make me feel good."
On the opposite side of the fence are parents Lynae and Jason Vahle from O'Fallon.
Their two young sons --7-year-old Jacob and 5-year-old Jack --thought they would be unable to play youth hockey because of mine subsidence issues at the U.S. Ice Sports Complex in Fairview Heights.
Then the Blues stepped in and made Scottrade Center available to the Southern Illinois Ice Hawks League.
"They were devastated," Lynae Vahle said of her sons. "The Blues graciously opened their facility to our hockey organization to keep hockey alive for our kids. They even hosted a Holiday Camp where the kids were trained by Al MacInnis, Keith Tkachuk, Jim Campbell, Bernie Federko and Bruce Racine.
"They were amazing with the kids and made it an unforgettable experience. So bring on hockey. These guys and the Blues organization made sure our kids got to continue playing hockey, and they showed us all that they truly care about the community and our youth."
Here's a look at how other fans viewed the NHL's decision to move forward with a 48-game schedule:
Thrilled, but with reservations
"I'm thrilled the NHL's back. I never really wanted to boycott because (a) I knew it was futile and that no one at any level would care and (b) why would I be the one to willingly deprive myself of my hobby and main source of entertainment after someone else deprived me of it? That just seems counterproductive." -- Laura Astorian, formerly of Granite City
Hit them in the wallet
"I have been a season-ticket holder since 1999. I have been disgusted by both sides during this lockout. I blame Bettman for the league's absurd initial proposal that set back negotiations for over a month. I blame (NHL Players Association executive Donald) Fehr for regularly showing up late to meetings and being very unprofessional.
"Yes, I will go to games once the season starts, but other than ticket money (I sit in the cheapest seats), the Blues will not get another penny from me. No beer, nachos, soda, jerseys, hats or anything. That is my small, personal protest. I also plan to boycott as many NHL sponsors as possible." --Mike Abell, Fairview Heights
Get rid of Gary Bettman
"My opinion is that as much as it pains me, until Gary Bettman isn't in charge, I have to be gone. I canceled my season tickets when the lockout loomed and the equivalent of two lost seasons because of three work stoppages on his watch points him out as the common denominator and he has to go." --Kirk Schilling, Millstadt
Still bleeding Blue
"I am a realist. I've been a hockey fan and a Blues fan all of my life. I grew up watching the Blues during some of the teams greatest years, and I saw how the '04-05 lockout ravaged the team and the fan base here in St. Louis. We can't let that happen again.
"While sitting in the nosebleeds during those last 30 seconds of Game 5 last year, I realized that this is most connected I've felt to our hockey team in my entire life. We have a very special team right now that is full of talented and humble players. They want to win as much as we do, and I think we owe it to them and ourselves to keep showing up day and night and selling out Scotttrade." --Drew Haeffele, Columbia
Tired of the egos
"I have been a Blues fan ever since I was a kid, many a time in the late '60s (and) early '70s doing odd jobs for 50 cents, or a dollar, just to scrape up $5 to go to a Blues game and buy a standing-room-only ticket ... been a fan even through the crummy years ... but no more.
"Nothing against the Blues; (they) still are my favorite team. It's hockey I am mad at. It's comprised of egotistical greedy people that care nothing for the fans; no matter what they are gonna say in front of a microphone." --Arthur A. Knepper, Fairview Heights
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.