It may feel like 40 degrees outside, but Canada's winter game is finally back on the ice, metaphorical though it may be.
After 10 consecutive days of talks, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association went into overtime from noon Tuesday to midday Wednesday to end the longest labour dispute in the history of North American professional sports.
The reaction from players and team officials was, to say the least, predictable. Erasing 301 days of bitter conflict in a 30-second sound bite, Philadelphia Flyers star Jeremy Roenick said, "To be totally honest, I really don't care what the deal is anymore. All I care about is getting the game back on the ice." For Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock, "It's a new day. It's pretty exciting."
But sweltering in the mid-summer heat, a lot of hot-under-the-collar fans in hockey cities like Toronto, Detroit and New York are bound to ask why the players and the league had to lock them out for an entire season to reach a deal that was probably in the cards from the start.
Whether these fans will cool down enough to buy tickets by the time hockey season rolls around remains to be seen.
In southern U.S. cities, where hockey has never been a passion, there is a more unsettling question: Have their far less committed spectators written off the sport?