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Locked Out

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The long-awaited and much-expected NHL lockout is in full effect, meaning you probably should not expect to see a Kings or Ducks game any time soon. The NHL's problem is that it's pretended hockey is a major sport for over a decade, and the reality is that with pathetic TV ratings, falling attendance, and an overambitious expansion, hockey barely registers a tick on the sports radar screen these days.

After the Kings reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993, and the Rangers won the championship in 1994, hockey was never better. NHL 94 was the number-one selling video game in the country, the game was considered "hip" with America's youth, and forecasters predicted that hockey might one day be as big as basketball or baseball. But ever since then, the neutral zone trap stifled scoring offenses and the game lost much of its flow. Gary Bettman (above left) has to be one of the worst commissioners in sports history for failing to tackle head-on any of his hockey's problems in recent years.

Today, NASCAR, golf, tennis, fishing, and heck, even poker are more popular in the US than ice hockey, When the College Softball World Series gets better ratings than the Stanley Cup Finals, then you obviously cannot continue to dole out multi-million dollar salaries to athletes who aren't really stars.

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The NHL desperately needs a new business plan, one that might even have to start with contraction. (We suggest getting rid of about 8 teams and making ticket prices affordable for the other 22 teams). Unfortunately, for hockey fans, it appears that it may take several months to a year for any solution.

So if you're in need of a hockey fix in Southern California, LAist recommends the Long Beach Ice Dogs.