Capacity crowd greets Jackets' official return

RUSTY MILLER AP Sports Writer Published:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Quite a few of the Columbus Blue Jackets worried about how the fans would react once the NHL lockout was officially over and the team returned to the ice.

Based on the first practice, they had nothing to worry about.

A capacity crowd, with fans standing two or three deep around the glass, watched and cheered as the Blue Jackets held their first full-team practice on Sunday at the public facility adjoining their home arena.

Defenseman James Wisniewski was the first player on the ice shortly after noon, and he smiled as he tossed sticks over the glass to fans.

Before that, coach Todd Richards addressed the crowd and thanked them for their patience and acknowledged some "negativity" because of the lockout.

But everything else was positive and upbeat.