Preds fans ready for return to Smashville - WSMV Channel 4

Preds fans ready for return to Smashville

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After months of staying away from the ice, Predators hockey officially returned to Nashville on Monday.

The National Hockey League announced Sunday that it and the players' association had agreed to the framework of a new labor contract, which ended a bitter dispute that wiped out a large part of the hockey season for the third time in less than two decades.

Now, for the team and diehard fans, Monday was all about getting back to work.

"Woke up at 7 o'clock and saw probably 125 tweets on my phone saying that it was over," said Preds fan Kristi Popernack. "My first reaction was, 'I'm going to practice.'"

Fans saw signs of progress everywhere, as Smashville returns to Bridgestone Arena.

"In their Preds gear, their official helmet - everything being back in the rink. It's fantastic. I can't wait. I'm waiting for the news as to when the schedule may start and when things are officially going to get under way to see our first game," said Preds fan Steve Biron.

At Bridgestone Arena, Preds gear hangs ready for the fans, while down the street at Tequila Cowboy, Kate Parrish can't wait for the team's turnaround.

"Without having the Predators this year, it's definitely hurt," she said. "We're definitely looking forward to seeing more people in the downtown area. My only hope is that it hasn't deterred people from wanting to go to the games."

Both sides must still hammer out the details of the 10-year labor deal along with a revised 48-game schedule.

But for now, it seems the image of skates back on the ice is enough.

"I just love the sounds - the slams, the hits, the camaraderie," Popernack said. "How can you not love this stuff? It's awesome."

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