Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/21/05 at 10:59 PM ET
Hockey fans weren't too happy when the NHL went dark, but the lockout and embarrassment of a lost 2004-05 season could turn out to be a good thing in the long run. At least, that's the opinion of people such as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Rob Blake, player agent Tom Laidlaw and ESPN analyst Barry Melrose. But only if the pain of a year of empty rinks will have been the impetus to make the changes needed to put all 30 NHL franchises on solid financial footing, forge a true partnership between owners and players and make the on-ice product more appealing to fans. The league is expected to reopen for business this weekend, after ratification of a tentative collective-bargaining agreement by NHL Players' Association members today in Toronto and the NHL Board of Governors on Friday in New York. The governors are expected to approve the deal, but there are players among the 700-plus union members who lost a year of salary fighting the hard salary cap that is the key component of the six-year agreement. "We offered that cap in (the winter) to get a deal, so we all understood it was on the table for good," Blake said. "Now both parties can work together to create new revenues."
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