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Devils' Zajac relieved he's heading back to work

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His flight was scheduled to leave Winnipeg for Newark late Sunday afternoon. Travis Zajac knew that much. But, truthfully, he also had a whole pile of questions bouncing around in his head.

When will training camp begin for his New Jersey Devils? When does the NHL regular season start? Who will the defending Eastern Conference champs open against?

In the end, all those details mattered little. What’s most important is this: he is heading back to work.

"It seemed like there were times when the deal was going to get done and then there were times where you felt like the season was going to be lost," said Zajac.

"It’s definitely been a roller coaster. It’s my first time being through it. I didn’t expect it to go like this or be this long. But I’m glad we were able to save the season, still be able to play some games and get a playoff in. Our part as players is to go out and play as hard as we can and try to earn these fans back to try and watch us play.

"I’m sure there is going to be some (indifference to the NHL’s return) in some areas and I’m sure there is going to be some bitterness in other areas. It will take time, but eventually I think we’ll be able to get the fans back on our side.

"You’ve got to thank the fans for being patient. This was long overdue."

Zajac had yet to study all the details of the new collective-bargaining agreement, other than to soak up what was available in initial reports. He’ll leave the discussion as to which side gain or lost on each issue to others.

"It doesn’t matter," he said. "Both sides got some things they wanted. We got to hang on to some of our contracting rights. They league got the 50-50 split. Both sides are just happy to be at this point."

Ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPEdTait

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