Preds Begin Practice At Team Facilities - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Preds Begin Practice At Team Facilities

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by Janet Kim and Steve Layman

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With the NHL lockout finally coming to an end, the Predators hit the ice for a practice and their fans were ready to cheer them on.

It may be a shortened season, but excitement is brewing for the puck to drop in the NHL.

There are still a lot of questions surrounding the season – when will it begin and how many games will be played – but Monday in Nashville, the fans just wanted to see how ready their guys were.

"I think it's awesome finally seeing the team back together, and I think the fans coming out to be here really shows support of the players trying to make things better for the NHL," said fan Marco Alejandro.

About a dozen players for the Predators were at Centennial Sportsplex on 25th Avenue North for a workout session open to fans – fans that the players know will make their season.

"It has been tough, for sure. We feel for the fans. No one likes to be in this situation – or put our fans in this situation. They're the game, really – and they're what makes the game," said Predators Forward Mike Fisher.

While many can't wait for the season to finally begin, other fans may be sending a different message to the league.

"Some of the biggest hockey fans I know cancelled their tickets and are not renewing them because they're tired of giving professionals from both the players and professional sides and their organizational sides. They don't think they deserve their money," said Brittany Wesemann.

The season will likely begin on the January 19th. Predators' officials said they believe the team's first game will be played at home in Bridgestone Arena.

The new collective bargaining agreement has not officially been ratified yet, so coaches could not attend the player practice.

About half of the team roster has been scrambling to get back to Nashville from literally all over the world, but for the 11 players that did skate Monday, it was a good day.

Headed up by star defenseman Shea Weber and Forward Mike Fisher, the Predators returned to team facilities for the first time in nearly four months since the lockout began.

The group has been holding daily workouts at A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin. News that the lockout is over has been a relief for players who just want to play.

"It's nice to be out here," said defenseman Kevin Kline. "It's nice to be out in our own rink and see the guys."

Although several players had been practicing during the lockout, team captain Shea Weber said the energy has been different since the announcement a deal was in the works.

"Obviously yesterday the energy was a lot different at A-Game. It's been tough for guys – you go two weeks without even talking and negotiations. Guys were kind of wondering what was going on and it's tough to get out for practice like that," said Weber.

The NHL has reportedly been working on a 48-game schedule. Several players said the condensed season would be more of a sprint, so players and fans should be ready to go right from the start.

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