Hitmen players rejoice

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

They've been knocking on the door for the past year.

But no one was answering.

Junior hockey players across the country yesterday celebrated news of an impending deal between the NHL and its player's association.

Calgary Hitmen players Riley Merkley, Brodie Dupont and Dustin Kohn were relieved to hear their professional dreams might now start to take shape.

"It's exciting," Merkley said. "It's been a long time coming."

The Hitmen centre said it was more difficult to deal with the uncertainty.

"It's been painful for a lot of people. Hopefully everything is straightened out now," he said.

Dupont, ranked 40th among North Americans by International Scouting Services -- the highest of the three Hitmen players -- is pleased the NHL Entry Draft could be held as early as July 30 in Ottawa.

"It's a big weight off my shoulders more than anything," Dupont said. "After we get the draft out of the way, hopefully I can come back to Calgary, have a better season than the last one and see what happens."

Kohn, the club's top offensive blueliner, said he hasn't spent the summer fretting about the situation.

"I haven't thought about it too much," he said. "My agent said he thought there would be a deal done this summer. So I've gone about my business and I haven't worried about it.

"But it's definitely exciting. It's good to have the game back.


Videos

Photos