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Fans, sports bars, happy hockey is back

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 19 2013 04:51:58 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 19 2013 05:17:12 PM CST

Hockey is back

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

It's been a long wait, but NHL hockey is back after a nearly four-month lockout.  And no one is happier than sports bar owners, who have seen lackluster football business.

If you play it, they will come.  In the case of hockey, that's certainly true.

"I love it," said Larry Boone of Reading.  "I love hockey."

Betsy Brown of Easton agreed.

"Im excited," she said.  "Happy."

It certainly wasn't packed, but at Starter's Riverport in Bethlehem, any crowd is a good one given the lackluster business lately.

"Since the end of the regular season for football, business has been down a little bit in terms of sports," said general manager Morris Taylor.  "We haven't had any local teams in, as everybody around here knows, unfortunately."

Philadelphia Flyers fan Al Capwell was so excited, he headed to the Wells Fargo Center Thursday for practice.

"It was really loud, like everyone was really into it," he said of the sold-out practice.  "I think there was, like, 15 thousand people there."

Fans are excited, but for some, the lockout that cancelled half the NHL season left a bad taste in their mouths.

I thought they'd get a deal," said Brown.  "I'm not happy; I don't think they should strike."

And while a lockout may have been bad for business here, it actually helped minor league teams.

"I bought tickets for the AHL, thinking that they weren't going to get back, and now they are," said Boone.

Saturday's season kicked off with a marquee in-state rivalry: the Philadelphia Flyers vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins.