Todd Bertuzzi would find himself in various pubs and notice there usually were two things showing on TV screens: darts or "Cheers" reruns.

How could hockey not be a better option?

The Red Wings have the good fortune to be in a market that has shown nothing but loyalty, and the team's season-ticket base was not affected by missing half the season. When the 2013 NHL season does start -- a schedule has yet to be released because the new collective bargaining agreement isn't official -- the Wings aren't likely to see much backlash from the 113-day lockout.

"I think at first there will be a few empty seats, but I think overall, let's face it, hockey is a great sport," Bertuzzi said Monday. "It's great to watch, great to watch on TV. I think everyone who's been complaining and all that sees that they're the ones sitting at the bar, watching darts and stuff like that, when they could be watching a good old hockey game. Even a replay -- people love replays during the afternoon, having a beer. So, I think it will be nice that everyone gets to start entertaining themselves with some hockey."

The NHL skated by when it went through its last labor strife, even though it cost the entire 2004-05 season. Back then, though, fans seemed largely understanding of the league's demand for a salary cap and why it was a necessity. This time, clubs are aware fans are angry.

"I think the ones everyone felt sorry for was fans," general manager Ken Holland said. "Without passionate fans, we don't have a game. From my perspective, we apologize that we took something that was important to them away for a period of time. Each game that goes by, our organization has to find ways to reconnect with our fan base.