For nearly four months, the ice at the Tampa Bay Times Forum remained empty thanks to the NHL lockout.
Sunday, the owners and players came to an agreement. Soon, the excitement will be back in Channelside.
Thursday, the Lightning held a job fair for positions that need to be filled, they say they are hoping the fans will soon fill the seats at the Forum.
"Nobody is proud of the fact that we've had this work stoppage, but we're thrilled to be back on the ice," said Bill Wickett, executive vice president of communications for the Lightning. "We'll do everything we can to earn our fans respect and their love."
Greg Trim is a first time season ticket holder. He and other fans say work stoppage or not, their passion for the game means they'll be back..
"I wasn't really totally upset with it. However, I was looking really forward to the excitement down there," Trim said.
"I'm glad that they finally got a date so we can get going, and I can't wait to go to the first game," said Lightning fan Jim Sorrells.
"I am happy to go back and watch as many games as I can," said Lightning fan Felicity Rollins.
The fans aren't the only ones happy that hockey in back in Tampa. At Hattricks, the popular pre-game spot near the Forum, the owners say the end of the lockout is good news.
"We were excited the day the news came out," said Hattricks co-owner David Mangione.
They say football season keeps them afloat, but the lack of hockey made a noticeable dent.
"It was an impact, it would be foolish to say it wasn't. It could have been much worse," Mangione said.
But the good news is hockey is back and Tampa Bay area fans say they'll be back too -- something the Lightning say they don't take for granted.
"Every single fan is important to us, we've upset plenty of people and we're going do everything we can to earn their trust and respect," Wickett said.
The Lightning have plans to thank their fans this coming weekend. Sunday, they plan to have a practice at the Forum that will be open to fans.
They say there will be autographs and a lot of fan interactive events.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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