Rejoice, fans of the NHL! Your lockout is, at long last, seemingly over. Though it's yet to be officially confirmed by the league or the players associations themselves - the key word in this headline is tentative - players are reacting just as joyfully as fans are.
Details will be spilling out as the week continues, as the board of governors will not meet to vote until Wednesday. However, the loose framework seems to consist of either a 50-game or a 48-game schedule, starting some time in mid-January. The last time there was a lockout-shortened season in hockey, the season began on January 20, 1995, and it consisted of 48 games. There are reports that the shortened season, though chaotic, was enjoyed by many players.
However, there's no denying that terrible damage has been done to the league, its credibility, and the ability of fans to get back in the frame of mind to get that pure bliss of enjoyment from their beloved sport. Some writers have even put forth the idea that they'll never look at the NHL in the same way again. Commissioner Gary Bettman has taken his share of abuse in the press, and has now presided over three lockouts during his tenure. The complications will continue through this season, as the NHL had been seeing record values and will now be desperately seeking to get back to that ground.
That frantic scramble, though, might not be as tough as some are predicting. The last time the NHL lost a season, in 2004-2005, Forbes claims that attendance improved the next season. With the lockout over, and the fans looking forward to a season where every game counts more than ever before, the NHL might be in a position to move forward in a more classy way than these commercials or simple messages that ran after the lost 2004-2005 season. The best way to do so? Put forward a great product as quickly as possible.