D.C.

Businesses around Verizon Center ready for shortened NHL season

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With the season on the line, the NHL and the players' association agreed on a tentative pact early Sunday to end a 113-day lockout and save what was left of a fractured schedule.

Aside from fans, businesses and workers around the Verizon Center, home to the Washington Capitals, were also celebrating the deal.

Hockey Broadcast Engineer Al Aye said, "It's going to be fun. Can't wait."

"We're all pretty excited. Actually, everybody was cheering and everything, having a good time," added Leonard Hudson, a restaurant general manager.

Bars, restaurants and sports stores in the 7th Street area are gearing up for a shortened NHL season, which could begin as early as next week.

Bartender Taylor Trone said, "It was definitely grim prospects going into the spring without hockey."

During the 113-day lockout, businesses like the RFD Bar were hurting. Caps fans are known for grabbing food and drink early before the game and staying late afterwards.

"It can be a couple of hundred versus a couple of dozen, depending on the nature of the game, and who's coming in," Trone added. 

Nearby sports stores are still dominated by Redskins gear. But staffers say that will likely change quickly once the the Caps start skating.

Food truck owner Daron Celestin said, "Hopefully, it will revitalize the rest of the city."

For the merchants and the fans, there are still a lot of questions.

A 48 or 50-game season? And when will the players hit the ice?

For Aye, the deal is also good news for his mother.

"My mother is a big Caps fan. She's 86; she loves the Caps...wanted Ovechkin to come, and she'd cook dinner," he laughed.

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