SAN JOSE -- The downtown restaurants were happy for Monday night's bump in business as hockey -- albeit the minor league variety -- returned to HP Pavilion for the first time since April.
But not all the 12,881 fans who showed up to see the San Francisco Bulls fall 6-4 to the Stockton Thunder were all smiles, willing to put the nastiness of the NHL lockout, now in its 95th day, behind them.
Yes, some were pleased with the Sharks' attempt to soothe a weary fan base. And some were desperate enough to see pro hockey that they opened their wallets in the resale market when they came up empty-handed after the free tickets were distributed.
"I bought them on Craigslist," said Jamen Barreras, who added that he normally attends 10 to 15 Sharks games each season. "I paid $45 each for me and my brother."
Barreras, who drove from Antioch, then stopped at the Los Gatos Brewing Company before heading for the arena, acknowledged he needed his hockey fix.
But another fan said she was going to the game almost reluctantly.
Jan Olsen, a 56-year-old Los Gatos resident who shares season tickets with her brother, initially planned to stay home. At one point, she said she was going to take the Sharks up on their ticket offer but leave the seat empty in protest.
"Then I realized my community is there. I want to go and see the people that we sit with and don't get to see," she said. "That's why I'm going, not to support the Sharks. Because I don't support the Sharks."
Olsen and her brother, Larry Blair of San Mateo, are divided over whether to renew their season tickets. Olsen said the lockout has helped her discover that her life doesn't need to be tied to the NHL schedule and wants to give them up.
"I wish they would just call off this season and give me back my money," she said. "There's so many things to do, and I don't have to worry about missing a hockey game."
Olsen and Blair had their pregame meal at the Brittania Arms, a pub that includes former Sharks captain Owen Nolan as an owner.
Sonny Walters, general manager there, said the Brit, too, was losing significant business because of the lockout. A typical game night would bring in about 800 to 900 people, he said. Without hockey, that number is around 250.
Inside the arena, fans filled about two-thirds of the seats and saved some of their loudest cheers for Sharks forward Ryane Clowe, who is practicing with the Bulls and serving as an assistant coach on game nights.
Clowe said before the game that he didn't expect any fans to take out their lockout unhappiness on him -- "I play the game hard, and they've always treated me great" -- and that proved to be the case.
The crowd focused more on the fight-filled game than the brawl at the bargaining table, though one fan changed his "This is Sharks Territory" sign to read "This is Lockout Territory."
The fans who showed up didn't match the full house that usually fills HP Pavilion, but they did follow the Sharks' suggestion to stop at downtown restaurants before and after the game. Those restaurants closest to the arena have lost about 30 percent of their business, according to Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association.
At Henry's Hi-Life, every table was filled, and dozens of other fans were crammed into the bar area 90 minutes before the opening faceoff.
"I really appreciate what they did, bringing the Bulls down here," said Richard Aradna, owner of the legendary barbecue joint less than a quarter mile from HP Pavilion. "This is what a Shark night is like. I'm excited, the staff is excited -- this is what we're looking forward to with the lockout ending. But there's no end in sight."