SUN Hockey Pool

It's a hockey love-in!

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

The lockout is forgotten.

Any hard feelings are gone. Let the games begin.

There was no sign of any lingering ill will over the NHL lockout between fans and the Edmonton Oilers yesterday as thousands crammed into the Northlands AgriCom - many picking up their season tickets, some taking advantage of a chance to skate with players and countless others forming long lines for autographs.

The Fan Day festivities were such a success that Oilers' VP of marketing Stew MacDonald said it may be an annual event.

"This is a great idea for the kids and fans to see the players, because we're all Oilers fans," said Margaret Cikaluk, a season ticket holder since the Oil's first NHL season.

Her husband George was looking ahead to the season with great anticipation.

"I think we're going to have a great rivalry with Calgary," he said.

"We're going to be way better," added 13-year-old fan Dylan Kenney, who was awaiting the appearance of his new favourite player, defenceman Chris Pronger.

The Oilers, too, were caught up in the hoopla.

"It's a great feeling to see all the people supporting us. The atmosphere of hockey being back again is long overdue," said Ryan Smyth.

"If this had happened halfway through (the lockout), you probably wouldn't have seen this kind of turnout, but, to be honest, with the way things worked out with the new CBA, I think people understand both sides, so this isn't surprising.''

''Especially here in Edmonton - just bringing Chris Pronger and Mike Peca to the team makes us that much more dynamic.


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