The ice is no longer reserved for Disney princesses and swashbuckling heros, and Zambonis can finally get back to their real work.

After a 113-day labor dispute that cut the season in half, the National Hockey League season started this month.

Most hockey fans were happy.

Charles and Michelle Vinicombe, season ticket holders for the Devils since the team moved to Newark, were not.

Before the lockout, the Bridgewater couple upgraded their pair of season tickets, which would now cost $53 per ticket per game each.

"Like all NHL fans, we were disgusted with the labor dispute and the greed that caused it," said Charles Vinicombe, 50, in a Jan. 9 e-mail, 10 days before the puck would drop in the first game. "In our view, if the lockout did not end and there were no games by the beginning of December, we considered it a lost season."

But players and the league finally came to terms and the schedule was reduced to only 48 games, starting Jan. 19.

When the lockout was resolved, the Vinicombes thought that a partial season "that does not start until the end of January and that will go almost until the Fourth of July with the Stanley Cup Finals was absurd."

They thought the NHL should have just canceled the season.

He said between tickets, food, parking and gas, each game cost the couple about $200. The couple didn't think the cost was worth it with the shortened season.

Vinicombe said he and his wife kept reading media accounts of how the owners and players would now have to deal with fan disinterest and dissatisfaction, and how they were going to make things right.

Given their feelings, the Vinicombes contacted the Devils on Jan. 9, with what they thought was a simple and fair request.