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Did NHL Lockout Kill L.A. Kings' Fan Buzz?

With games set to start this month, the L.A. Kings will finally raise their 2012 Stanley Cup banner inside the Staples Center.

After a long hiatus, National Hockey League players will return to the ice Saturday for a shortened season after its union and the league agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement.

Hockey hotspot Redondo Beach Cafe will be showing the 2012 Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings' first game of the season, which will be against the Chicago Blackhawks, on Saturday at noon. In addition, the eatery will host a watch party on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

But will NHL fans return?

It was only last June when the Kings, an eight seed in the playoffs, won their first championship in franchise history over the New Jersey Devils. The Stanley Cup, one of the most sought-after trophies in professional sports, traveled all over the county, including Hermosa Beach where thousands of fans gathered, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Glendale.

A Forbes story cites the 2004-05 full season lockout did not hamper future game attendence, with the exception of four teams.

Momentum for the sport grew to an all-time high during the 2011-12 season. The magazine states 47 percent of NHL revenue last season came from the fan, namely parking, concessions and gate receipts.

KPCC reported in November that the latest NHL lockout threatened the L.A. Kings' fan-building momentum. Considering the area is mostly a Lakers and Dodgers fanbase (although it can be argued the recent success of the Clippers has another growing fanbase), hockey's always been an afterthought in SoCal.

L.A. Kings fans: Click here to relive last season's championship and watch a cool video produced by the NHL.

—Editor Nicole Mooradian contributed to this report.

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