BOSTON — As NHL owners and the players union finalize a tentative deal to end the nearly four-month-old hockey lockout, some Boston Bruins acknowledged Monday they have some work to do to win back fans.
“It’s not easy to face people and say you’re sorry for making them wait so long for a sport they love,” said Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, who is also the team’s players’ association representative. “Trust us: It hurt and it hurt a lot.”
A standoff over labor costs has so far resulted in more than 30 Bruins games being canceled this season. It is the second time in a decade the NHL has lost games due to labor problems. The entire 2004-2005 season, including the Stanley Cup final, was wiped out because of a lockout.
A deal to end this season’s lockout is expected to be finalized Tuesday. The league is expected to play a 48-game season, which could begin by the middle of January.
More than a dozen members of the team took part in an unofficial, two-hour practice session at Boston University’s Agganis Arena Monday morning. Because the players are still officially locked out, the skate remained an unsanctioned team event.
B’s forward Tyler Seguin spent the lockout playing in Switzerland, but said “words can’t describe” how it feels to be back playing in the NHL. Seguin was one of the leading scorers in the professional National League A in Switzerland before returning to North America.
Seguin said he feels sorry for Bruins fans left without hockey during the lockout. “I want to apologize just for everything that happened,” he said Monday, “but hopefully we can move forward from here.”