Red Wings return to practice as lockout ends

TROY, Mich. - Todd Bertuzzi was the first Red Wings player to hit the ice Monday morning.

He didn't exactly have any cobwebs to dust off.

"We've had three months to get ready," he said.

After 113 days, the NHL lockout came to an end Sunday. A group of Red Wings hit the ice at Troy Sports Center for the first workout since hockey's return became official.

"There's a renewed sense of excitement," Justin Abdelkader said.

Abdelkader, who has been working with a group of 12-15 players at Troy throughout the winter, said the lockout has been tough for everyone, but the end came at the perfect time.

With football season nearing its end, Abdelkader said it's time for Hockeytown to get its game back.

FIRST PHOTOS: Pictures from the Red Wings first practice since the tentative agreement to end the lockout. Click here .

Bertuzzi echoed those thoughts, and said although he expects empty seats, he knows they'll be filled soon.

"Hockey is a great game. The people who complain are the ones who sit at the bar playing darts. Hockey fans will be back."

Players from all 30 NHL teams are scattered across the globe, so understandably, as Red Wings travel back to Detroit, the group at Troy had only a handful of players.

Abdelkader and Bertuzzi skated with Patrick Eaves, Cory Emmerton, Darren Helm, Mikael Samuelsson, and Ian White.

Signs keep pointing to a shortened camp and virtually no preseason or exhibition game warm-up. Eaves, who is still not cleared to play after suffering from concussion symptoms since last season, said a quick return is what everyone needs.

Bertuzzi said an exhibition season would hurt the league, and players.

"Less is more," he said.

The players will work out at Troy for the week because the Ford Motor Company is renting out Joe Louis Arena, but it's only a matter of time before they lace up at the Joe and put on the winged wheel again.

"We've been waiting for a long time. It's good to be back," Ian White said.

Yes, yes it is.

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