After 113 days of long drawn out drama between the NHL owners and the players, both sides FINALLY came together and agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), thus ending the NHL Lockout.  Because of the lockout, hockey fans lost out on 34 games of an 82-game season, and in the process, found themselves frustrated and angry at both the owners and players.

In any case, the dust has settled on this dispute and the NHL, the teams and its players are now preparing to start an abbreviated season (48 games) this Saturday, January 19th.  Fans, while upset about what took place, seem to be looking forward to the start of the season.  Even those fans who swore they wouldn't watch another NHL game seem to be softening their stance a bit.  Don't get me wrong, hockey fans are passionate and they don't forget;  They may appear excited about the return of the sport, but trust me, they are still pissed at the fact that they had to endure this in the first place.

But with all things, time heals all wounds and eventually that will be the case here.  Commissioner Bettman said boldly that the fans will return and whether you like him or not, that appears to be the case.  The most important thing in order to salvage what's left of this season is to start the season on a strong, positive note.  That means major PR spin from the league, it's teams and especially the players.  So with that being said, as the start of the season approaches, you're hearing stories about various teams offering up open practices and scrimmages for its fans; free refreshments, discounted/free tickets, autograph signings, and so on.  Will it work?  Sure it will.  We may grumble and complain, but at the end of the day, we as fans love the sport too much to walk away and we'll eventually accept the gestures from the teams and go back to watching the sport we love.  That's what the league is counting on and that's what they'll eventually get.  It's happened before and it will happen again.  Like I said before, hockey fans are passionate for their sport, and it's the passion that will bring them back to the arenas, the bars and wherever else the games are being played.

So on Saturday, look for the NHL to put on a full-court press with blanket coverage of games like you've never seen.  They will no doubt want to make a splash and it should be great.  Here at Third and Long, we plan on airing games all day/night. We're planning on a few surprises throughout the day and offering up some great drink deals and giveaways too.  So as the NHL is welcoming back its fans with open arms, so will we.  And we'll do it with big smiles on our faces, because let's face it:  We're excited to have the game back, just like you.

CHILI COOK-OFF UPDATE:  After our announcement about our upcoming event this Sunday, we are almost at capacity for entries!  And while we are still finalizing our list of prizes for the winner, we can guarantee that you'll love what we have so far!  So if you are still trying to decide whether or not to sign up for our cook-off, don't wait too long!  You may get shut out!  Don't forget, it's free to enter and all entries automatically receives a $25 bar tab, just for entering!  Email the bar (thirdandlongnyc@gmail.com) or call (212-447-5711) for details!

And don't forget about PUB TRIVIA tonight (8pm, free to play)!


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