ShareThis Page

With lockout over, hockey fans eager for puck to drop

| Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, 11:38 p.m.

Penguins fan Kevin Jaworski enjoyed a beer Sunday at Jerome Bettis' Grille 36 on the North Shore, but not just any beer. It was a frosty Canadian lager, which he said he drinks only during hockey season, meaning the NHL.

Sunday marked the start of hockey season. Finally.

Jaworski was celebrating the end of the National Hockey League lockout. The league's 30 clubs, including the Penguins, likely will play no fewer than 48 of the scheduled 82 games, probably starting next week. A lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season.

A season-ticket holder since 2005, Jaworski, who is from the North Side, said he was “absolutely” thrilled that hockey is back.

“You miss coming to the games with your friends,” he said. “It's nice to come to work on a Tuesday knowing you have something to look forward to.”

Jaworski, 30, said he bore no malice toward players or owners, to whom he referred as “millionaires and billionaires,” seemingly resigned to the reality that this is a business. “That's sports. That's life,” he said.

However, Jaworski said he was “angry” for those workers whose jobs were affected by hockey's absence during the 113-day lockout.

“People say they miss hockey and they're mad they're not playing,” he said. “I'm mad for the people who are struggling.”

Seated nearby at a table watching a National Football League playoff game, Barry and Angela Faust of South Park expressed their delight over the lockout ending, although Angela added, “I wish it didn't take so long.”

“Now that college football is over and (the NFL) is just about over, this happened at the perfect time,” said Barry Faust, 43. “January to April would have been terrible.”

Bettis' general manager Matt Marco said the lockout “hurt the business” on what would have been game nights. At TGI Friday's inside Consol Energy Center, a person who identified himself as “one of the managers” declined to comment.

Each missed game cost the local economy about $2.2 million, said Craig Davis, CEO of VisitPittsburgh, which promotes tourism.

“The biggest losers of revenue were the Penguins, but there are so many other businesses that depend on that as far as rounding out their revenues,” he said. “Local restaurants, parking, retailers who sell Penguins gear.”

One such retailer is Perani's Hockey World, a hockey supply store in Mt. Lebanon.

“It's been such a detriment,” store manager Carla Jeke said of the lockout, noting that custom jersey sales for Christmas were severely hampered. “It'll be a great thing to get hockey going again. But I don't think we can recover fully from this.”

Penguins star Sidney Crosby said he does not blame fans for feeling frustrated but hopes “everyone is excited by the news and by the idea of hockey being back. Their support means an awful lot to us.”

Staff writer Josh Yohe contributed to this report. Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or via Twitter @BCohn_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.