Hockey is back, but at what cost?
The NHL and the players' association have reached an agreement but still have legal clarification and ratification to come.
Both sides also have some serious making up to do to fans.
It took years to take the sting out of the 2004-05 NHL lockout, in which the season was canceled. No Stanley Cup was awarded.
Many Kings fans won't have a problem returning in droves, watching games and supporting the team. The Kings won the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history last season. It was a magical run Kings fans undoubtedly want to see happen again.
But the shortened season has wreaked havoc on the lives of so many - stadium workers, food-service employees, security, fans, the works. Theeffects are far-reaching.
You don't just show up in January, smiles all around and not feel the sting from hockey fans. Millionaires fighting over millions never goes over well with people, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck. It's a luxury for so many fans to afford tickets to games.
Hockey doesn't own near the popularity the NFL, MLB and NBA have in this country. Throw in a lockout, and it's easy for the fringe fan to tune out the sport.
Players know many fans are irked, and they're already reaching out via Twitter in an attempt to thank and encourage them.
Tweeted Ducks winger George Parros: "Glad to have a deal done, thanks to all our fans out there who suffered through this with us ...
Kings center Trevor Lewis said: "Excited to get back at it! And thank you to the fans who supported us and will continue to support us! #herewego."
Kings captain Dustin Brown vented his frustration in a one-word tweet: "Finally."
Porter Valley resident Jon Michaels, a die-hard Kings fan, had just ordered season tickets in September. Michaels was a former eight-year season ticket holder, and after he and his wife had two children they gave up those seats. But with the championship and their love for the Kings reignited, they ordered season tickets again.
Last month, Michaels called and demanded his money back and got it. Even if the lockout was to end, he'd had enough.
"I don't know who to be bitter at," Michaels said. "I'm bitter at the situation, owners, players, whoever. It's a sport I love and I hate seeing negative press. We're coming off an emotional high of the greatest season in Kings history and to be hit in the face with negative feelings for such a great sport, I'm hurt.
"It's going to take some healing time."
Michaels' mom called him Sunday to congratulate him and a couple of friends texted him to remind him they're available to help him use his seats. He'll have to break the news to them that he no longer has them.
He said he still loves the Kings and he'll probably go to some games but "it's not going to be the same."
Pittsburgh Penguins fan Doug Church, who lives in Maryland, urged his friends on Facebook to join him in boycotting hockey for a while in his status update Sunday.
"I'm locking THEM out for as long as they have locked ME out - 32 games," Church wrote. "No TV, no attendance at a game, no merchandise."
How many times can the NHL and players expect fans to return when both sides know very little about compromise?
Many fans will return, but hockey has plenty of work to do to get so many fans back. It's a shame it came to this, but a shortened season is better than no season.
When the puck drops, the real work begins.