MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Among those with high anxiety during the lockout is Wild forward Matt Cullen.

He could be in the final year at this level, and if the NHL lockout would’ve continued, it would have been a tough year to miss.

The pick-up practices were getting old for Wild players, who weren’t allowed to practice on the Xcel Energy Center’s ice. Word that the lockout was over meant one thing: relief.

“It’s been a long stretch. You know, nobody would ever want to be involved in something like this, and to have it drag on the way that it has,” Cullen said.

It’s Cullen’s third season with his hometown team, and it’s the most anticipated for obvious reasons. As a veteran, his career may have ended on a practice rink instead of on home ice. The stakes were high.

“It just made it even worst when you look at the fact that, “Ok, I don’t have that many years left to play, and, you know, we finally have a team that looks like it could be a real competitor,” he said.

There has been a side benefit: he’s got three boys playing hockey, so he’s been able to serve as a father and husband more. But there’s always that itch to suit up and hit the ice.

“Having holidays at home and being with kids in the backyard rink has been a good thing. But I think they’re as sick of me as I am of not being on the ice (laughs). So it kind of goes both ways. They’re happy to see us back,” said Cullen.


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