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NHL Training Camps Open to Eager Fans

NHL training camps opened yesterday, after 113 days of a lockout and another week of ratifying the CBA among the owners and players. Typically training camp is used as a chance to test players, see who will make the cut, see who will fit in where during the season, and start to gel the team together. This year, with less than a week to go before an extremely shortened regular season begins, it was a chance for the players and owners to win back the fans. And they knew it.

Many arenas, such as the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, had meet and greets with the players, owners and the fans, vying for a chance to win back fan support as everyone gears up for regular season to open on Saturday. Nearly all teams are opening up training camps practices to the fans, something that wouldn’t be seen in a typical training camp.

Several teams are also extending their thanks and wooing techniques past just training camp. The Ottawa Senators, along with other teams in the league, will be offering free tickets to games for certain fans (such as children) once regular season starts; and things such as merchandise and concession items will also be available at reduced prices. All of it is for one reasons — to offer their thanks to the fans that come back, and try to get as many as possible back through the arena doors.

It may just be enough. As excited as the NHL was to kick off training camps, fans were more excited than ever.

An event such as the opening of training camp would typically only draw in the few die-hards that lived within the city. But in cities such as Detroit, Los Angeles, Toronto, and Ottawa, just to name a few, thousands of fans rushed in to watch their teams back at it. Finally. In Philadelphia, once the players started coming out onto the ice, they were met with a standing ovation.

Many fans said they wouldn’t go back; and that’s clearly just what the NHL owners were afraid of. But now that it’s officially all over, fans seem to have adopted a new mindset. They love hockey, and they’ve been waiting too long to turn their backs on it now.

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