ST. PAUL, Minn. Zach Isenor was one of the thousands of fans to show up at the Xcel Energy Center Wednesday night, courtesy of the free tickets given away by the Minnesota Wild. He waited in line, like many others, just for the chance to enter the Hockey Lodge and purchase team gear that was 50 percent off during Minnesota's "Wild Wednesday" promotion.
For Isenor, who lives in South St. Paul, there was no doubt his fandom wasn't going to change despite the NHL's lockout.
"Didn't sway us at all," Isenor said Wednesday during the free intrasquad scrimmage.
But Isenor has seen the other effects of a lockout. The Minnesota native lived in Florida when the NHL went through a lockout in 2004-05 that wiped out the entire season. Isenor enjoys hockey, so he returned then, just as he has now. But Isenor saw many fans didn't return, at least not immediately, in the sunbelt.
"It wasn't the same deal," Isenor said. "It was an empty...