Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said the team must now win back the loyalty of "all fans."
Holland said the team lost few season ticket holders during the NHL lockout but it's common knowledge some fans have threatened to boycott televised games and merchandise.
Holland said the entire organization has to work at making amends. Holland told CBC Windsor on Tuesday that the club has to win fans back "one game at a time, one fan at a time."
"Our players are fan friendly but we've got to be even more fan friendly. We've got to reach out even more, to make sure we sign the extra autograph, that we shake that extra hand, that we pay attention because we all understand that the fans are the reason that we've got a wonderful game and a great business," Holland said.
A sport management professor at the University of Windsor doesn't believe fans will really follow through with boycotting the league.
Marijke Taks said a little time is all it will take to heal the wound for hockey fans upset about the NHL lockout.
"It may be a bit slow the first couple of weeks, but in a couple of weeks, everybody will have forgotten about the lockout, and everybody is back to business as usual," she predicted.
Fans in Detroit on Monday said they wouldn't attend Red Wings games or buy merchandise. Some threatened to not tune into games. And one went so far as to demand free tickets as compensation for the lockout.
However, Taks said fans can forget about the Red Wings or Maple Leafs discounting tickets.
"I don't expect them to drop prices, because that also connects with the quality you put on the ice or the perception of quality," Taks said. "But, they may want to add to the experience or put in a couple of free drinks or something like that."
The return of hockey is good news for business owner Bob Reaume of Bob Reaume sports. He gambled at the start of the lockout and went ahead with his usual NHL merchandise order.
A lost seasons would have meant lost sales.
"It would have been quite noticeable had they not played at all. It would've made for a quiet January, February, March until baseball got rolling," he said. "There would have been no reason to cheer for anybody."