Thanks to Federal mediator Scot L. Beckenbaugh, the NHL and NHLPA were able to reach a tentative deal that will end the Lockout. It's very unfortunate that some obscure mediator did more to get hockey back than NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA honcho Donald Fehr.
The good news is that hockey is back. There's enough time to play an abbreviated schedule, probably around 48 games. And frankly, the 82 game regular season was too long anyway. A 48 game schedule could make for more exciting and more meaningful games.
The other piece of good news is that the CBA will last for 10 years. So we won't have our next significant work stoppage until the 2022-23 season.
I'm excited hockey is back. Especially with the end of football season around the corner. February would have really sucked without hockey.
However, the root problems that plague the NHL remain. There are too many teams in markets that don't care about hockey and therefore don't generate enough revenue to keep pace with the big teams in profitable markets. That was the root cause behind the owners' demand that players get paid less, even as overall revenues have increased. Teams in struggling markets couldn't spend at the pace of the teams doing well, like the Bruins or Rangers. And the owners of those big market teams didn't want to share more of their own revenues.
The problem that instigated this Lockout still remain. The CBA is like a back brace for someone with a foot problem that results in back pain. It temporarily alleviates the symptoms, but does not address the cause.
The NHL has other problems as well. There's extreme inconsistency and ambivalence when it comes to discipline. The ice-surface should also be widened.
The NHL also needs to keep the Stanley Cup Playoffs the same. And they need to release their players to play in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.
I have quite a few issues with the NHL. But hockey is back. And flawed hockey is better than no hockey.