A young woman sitting across from me at a friend's birthday gathering tonight noticed my Predators hat and asked what I thought of the shortened hockey season. She said that her enthusiasm for it had flatlined as the lockout dragged on, and she was not sure she would bother going to games this year. I told her mine was unchanged.

Do not mistake my excitement for complete forgiveness of what amounted to an assault on my typical fall routine. My social circles, more than perhaps I had realized, revolve around watching and talking about hockey. It is an interest of mine I enjoy sharing. Squabbling among the respective parties stole half a season from the fans that support and grow their very way of life, not to mention what it meant to arena staff, local businesses, etc. Nobody won, everybody lost.

But hockey is back. Across North America Saturday night, memories of the bitter labor dispute will evaporate for many. I could boycott, protest, bad mouth and curse about what happened in those 110 days. But now the puck will drop, and willing my team to the Stanley Cup finals is the only endeavor worth my attention.