It Looks like Lockout Only Helped NHL

Article excerpt

As I started to write this late Wednesday afternoon, the dog started barking in the living room.

He has been told not to disturb me when I'm creating literature, but something aroused him.

So I go up to the living room and see him peering out the window at kids playing 4-on-4 hockey on the ice in the park across from our house.

The game is back -- in my neighborhood, at the United Center and around the country!

Wasn't supposed to be this way, was it? The latest NHL lockout was supposed to turn off fans for good this time.

They were supposed to move on to other sports, other activities. This league, always on a precarious perch in the United States, had shot itself in the skate.

Then the labor dispute was settled, the NHL season began, and enthusiasm for hockey seems to have increased rather than decreased.

The Blackhawks attracted a capacity crowd to their home opener, which wasn't surprising for Hawkey Town.

What might be considered surprising was the headline on the email that arrived Wednesday afternoon: "Comcast SportsNet delivers its highest Chicago Blackhawks regular-season game rating to date."

Those watching at home, many of them casual hockey fans at best, were the ones expected to forget about this game. No, though, they also welcomed back the NHL.

Again, though, this is Chicago, a hockey hotbed, more so than ever since the Hawks won the Stanley Cup three years ago.

But check attendance figures from home openers over the weekend and you'll see that there were very few empty seats around the league.

As usual, we in the media were wrong in projecting gloom and doom for the NHL. We missed that the lockout was a positive for the league as it tries to gain ground on the NFL, MLB and NBA. …