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Sabres Players, Fans Celebrate End of Lockout

7:31 PM, Jan 7, 2013   |    comments
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  • Roy Bakos manages the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery.
  • Sabres Defenseman Mike Weber tweeted this photo of his bags already packed for training camp, writing "Fastest pack I've ever completed."

BUFFALO, N.Y. - As news of the end of the lockout broke early Sunday morning, fans, players, and business owners shouted with joy.

At 9:16am Sunday, Sabres Defenseman Mike Weber tweeted a photo of his bags already packed for training camp. "Fastest pack I've ever completed," he wrote.

According to his teammate Matt Ellis, "It was an exciting morning, to say the least." Ellis, who was watching his son's hockey game Sunday morning, was alerted to the good news on his cell phone early in the morning.

"There's a lot of these kids here that didn't get to play NHL Hockey for the first part of this year," Ellis said.
"And you can go down the list. And to get the game back on the ice here, it's huge."

Sabres goalie Ryan Miller was more apologetic than happy. He sent the following comment via text message to our Adam Benigni:

"I am relieved more than anything. It is hard to feel overly happy or satisfied with the result because of the way in which we arrived at an agreement. I am still embarrassed that we players have such a poor relationship with our league as a whole.

"It is so poor that we wasted 34 games for each club and have alienated our fans and sponsors. An apology doesn't really help right now but I would like to start somewhere with our fans, especially in Buffalo. I am sorry."

Meantime, Ellis said many of his teammates who stayed in the area are in shape and itching to get back on this ice at the First Niagara Center, which has been dark for three months.

Surrounding businesses were also celebrating the end of the lockout and the thousands of additional customers about to walk through their doors.

"There's a lot of things going on down here," said Roy Bakos, who manages the Pearl Street Grill and Brewery. "And I think having hockey back, whether it have been 42 days of nights at the arena or now 24 or 25 days, it is going to be good for downtown and good for business."

Some fans celebrated by wearing their Sabres jerseys out to the Soup Fest, where the savory taste of a salvaged hockey season was as good as anything on the menu.

"So happy. It's like a belated Christmas gift," said Danielle Miller of Amherst.

Bakos said he had already begun dreaming of a championship season.

"Shortened season or not, hopefully we get to have a parade sometime in June with a big silver thing hoisted over somebody's head. That would be awesome," he said.

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