Alright, so I understand the thread title will spurn some of you on to state some of the other instances in which the game has flourished (Gretz to LA, Olympic participation), but for the sake of the argument could we stick to the question at hand: Has this NHL Lockout been the best thing to ever happen to the league? Granted there are going to be some "no's" and "you're an idiot's", but consider the facts: The prospect of rule changes have been discussed over the past few years, little has been done to make the sweeping reforms that may be needed to the game. With the lockout, the NHL has assured us a brand new scoring-friendly product. From the obvious (Goaltenders' Pads, Obstruction) to the questionable (Shootouts, Nets), many of the innovations had been within the spectrum of the hockey realm for a number of years, but had not been acted upon. No new innovation occured to spurn on the new movement other than the lockout's duration and the desire to win back fan support The economic framework of the new NHL promises to be one that could be considered one that offers teams and players a fair deal. The owners will get the much needed salary cap to help control escalating salaries around the league and help improve the competitive balance on the market. Though the players could be seen at a loss, they will see free agency ages drop by a few years, linkage and will keep some of the bells and whistles of the old CBA such as Arbitration. Through the modest setback, it's ensured that the salary cap will be able to rise in future years alongside the growth of the league and allow the players a stake to their former claim... and more Marketability has come up again and the NHL has seen the error of it's ways in alienating itself from the players. Infintely bound, the players and teams both carry the load of promoting itself to the sports world, not one or the other. Before, it was hard to find an NHL commercial featuring it's best players. Now, there's been a considerable buzz that the NHL will be able to launch itself again with the help of veterans and youth alike. So my take on it? I think the lockout is going to be one of the most defining moments of the NHL. If all the changes do occur as stated above, the NHL is going to have the lockout as a launching pad for it's game, being able to repackage a busted product and put it back on the market. The lockout itself can be better seen as a hibernation for the NHL to collect it's image and plot a long-term strategy to ensure the health of the league and further promote the sport throughout North America oi!