From start to finish, social media was an ever-present force during the NHL’s lockout.
Reaction was almost immediate on Sunday as word spread among players, media and fans that the league’s 113-day labour crisis had come to an end with a tentative agreement between the league and the NHL Players’ Association.
“So excited to get back to Edmonton,” said left-winger Taylor Hall. “See you soon Oiler fans!!!!”
New York Islanders forward Matt Moulson appreciated the time that went into the final 16-hour negotiating session that ended early Sunday morning.
“Woke up to some great news,” tweeted Moulson. “Big thank you to all who put in countless hours to get this thing done NHLPA.”
Matt Grabner, Moulson’s teammate on Long Island, was also grateful for the hard work put into labour talks that included U.S. federal mediators at times.
“Thanks to everyone who worked so hard and got this done..scramble is on now..can’t wait to get to NY,” said Grabner, adding the hashtag #letsplayhockey.
“To the fans that won’t come back, I can understand,” said Phoenix Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette to his more than 360,000 followers. “To the ones that will, thank you for your patience. Welcome back NHL hockey.”
Dustin Brown, the captain of the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, was his usual pithy self: “Finally.”
The official Twitter account of the Kings was more exuberant as the news broke.
“First order of business: raise banner,” the team said in a tweet.
Hockey media members were excited to get back to covering the game itself.
“Who knew amping up my workouts 4 weeks ago would have more meaning. At least I have 2 Abs now,” said former all-star Jeremy Roenick, who now provides commentary on hockey broadcasts for NBC Sports, adding the hashtags #SuitsFit #CameraAdds10lbs #HockeyisBack.
Social media — especially Twitter — had been an important forum for fans, players and media to voice their opinions throughout the lockout.
Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry posted his thoughts on the negotiations a few times, including a series of posts on Dec. 22 when he assured fans that a deal would get done to save a 48-game season.
“Look to the middle of January for the game to return!” said Cherry. “Those people who say it won’t be good hockey because it’s only half a season don’t know what they’re talking about.”
He also gave credit to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a pair of tweets Sunday morning.
“For all you people that are going to watch NHL hockey this year, make no mistake about it, you’re watching it because of Gary Bettman…” Cherry tweeted.
“Bettman was the guy that had to pull the trigger whether this was done or not. He saved the season,” he added.