NHL Lockout Over?

NHLThe Associated Press reports that “The NHL and the players’ association reached an agreement in principle Wednesday on a six-year labor deal, ending a lockout that wiped out last season.” Although the official NHL announcement says that “details of the new Agreement will not be made available publicly pending the formal ratification process by the NHLPA Members and the NHL Board of Governors,” the general consensus is that the proposed salary cap and other measures are slanted towards the owners.

All that aside, the bigger question is whether anyone will even notice that the NHL is back. Hockey had already become “least popular of the four major leagues in the United States” before the lockout, and pissing off its core fan base with this whole fiasco was not a smart move. The NHL supposedly has a plan to win the fans back, including some proposed rule changes to speed the flow of the game and increase scoring, including: smaller goalie pads and equipment; a “designated zone where goalies will be allowed to play the puck;” “the elimination of the red line when it comes to enforcing two-line passes;” and the possibility of shootouts to decide a tie game.

Personally, I think these rules are a stupid way to try and introduce “excitement” into the game; it reminds me of a couple of seasons ago when an edict was made to enforce defensive interference more stringently, resulting in a scoring glut for the first couple of months that it lasted. Instead of instituting changes that will likely alienate more fans than it will create, the owners and players need to somehow address the feelings of anger and betrayal that I (and many other fans) feel over the stubbornness and selfishness that both sides displayed during the season-long lockout dispute. I honestly don’t know the best way to accomplish that, but I’m not sure whether I’ll ever enjoy the game as much again…

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