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

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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.

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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.

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“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.

Mike Max