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Hockey Lockout Ends

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – There is good news for Buffalo Sabres fans. The hockey lockout is finally over.

The National Hockey League and the Players' Association reached an agreement in principle Wednesday on a new collective bargaining deal that is to include a salary cap.

Both sides are expected to ratify the deal next week. Word of an agreement brought a smile to the face of Roosevelt Williams.

He was cleaning the windows outside of HSBC Arena Wednesday afternoon. Williams said losing a whole season of hockey was tough for employees of JV Management who work at the arena.

"Oh, it was rough. A lot of people lost their jobs. Especially downtown, all the restaurants and the businesses," said Williams.

One of those businesses is the Pearl Street Grille. It is often a hot spot of activity on a Sabres home game nights.

General Manager Bill Casale said they are thrilled to learn hockey is expected to return this fall.

"We did lose quite a bit of business. But we knew this was coming so we did a lot of different things to compensate," said Casale. "But I think it had about a five percent impact on our overall annual sales."

Pearl Street Grille hostess Jodi Penna said there was a big difference without hockey this past winter.

"You can definitely could tell there was a big lull. It just wasn't getting as packed. At least in the summer we have Thursday in the Square, and different concerts across the street. But in the winter, there really isn't a whole lot going on to bring in a crowd here," said Penna.

The Sabres organization is unable to comment on the deal until leaders have a chance to review it. But Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn said they will attend a briefing session in New York City and reserve comment until the outcome of the ratification process.

However, Quinn said they are thrilled about the tentative agreement, and he thanked season ticket holders and loyal fans for their patience and support during the ten month lockout.

And for arena worker Roosevelt Williams..he's ready for hockey.

"If we are going to have some hockey, it sounds good to me. That's more money in my pocket," said Williams.