SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - While the National Hockey League is "taking baby steps" to try to end the lockout, the Springfield Falcons have already hit the ice.
Friday was the first day of training camp for the Springfield Falcons, and while the NHL should be in preseason, the fate of the regular season is still uncertain. This may hurt the National Hockey League, but it could actually help the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League.
"We hope to see an uptick in attendance," said Bruce Landon, President and General Manager of the Falcons. "With no Bruins, people can't stay home and watch games on TV, we're hoping they'll come down to the MassMutual Center and watch great hockey right here in their own backyard."
For the most part, those players that would be in the NHL are either going over to play in Europe or will play in the AHL.
The NHL canceled an entire season in 2004 because of a lockout, and during that time there was a 7% increase in attendance across the AHL.
It is not all good news for the Springfield area, However, businesses that depend on the NHL could take a hit if an agreement isn't made.
"I would definitely say it's going to hurt the apparel end of it, the fan buying the hat, the shirt, their sweatshirts, especially for the NHL teams," said Jay Passerini, owner of Bertelli's Skate Shop in West Springfield.
Possibly even worse: the lockout could hurt the sport of hockey, with a loss of fans and would-be fans.
"I think the longer it goes, the more damage it's going to be," Landon said. "If they can get something done quickly and get back to the ice, I think the damage will be minimal."
The regular season for the NHL is currently set for October 11th, and the Falcons' home opener is October 13.