So everyone seems to agree the lockout is on its way to an end.
Mike Ulmer says NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and union head Bob Goodenow won’t be around for too long afterwards.
The reasons are pretty obvious. The lockout was completely unnecessary. ESPN dumped the NHL. If they somehow agree to broadcast hockey, it will be on terms guaranteed to make sure the league never seems a penny of profit from the broadcasts.
Even if hockey starts up, they’re going to have to do some serious work to get people watching. Think about it. The NBA has witnessed a scoring explosion, with amazingly excited, talented teams (plus the Detroit Pistons) squaring off in the playoffs, and their ratings are still struggling. What chance does the clutch-and-grab of the NHL have? What kind of inroads can a static game played by giant men make?
The NHL can try and tweak the rules to generate a false sense of excitement and offense, but until they address the fact that the game has become dominated by meaty monsters who can score thirty goals a season just by standing in front of the net and letting the puck deflect off of them, they’re never going to get any fans back. Until someone admits that the chasm between Wayne Gretzky and Eric Lindros (no offense to Lindros, whom I truly think is great) was a million conceptual miles—the death of finesse and the birth of size—then hockey is never going to have a chance.
The lockout is just one of the NHL’s many, many problems. They’re hardly out of the woods.