The NHL is also counting on the ever-growing popularity of high-definition television to boost TV ratings that are respectable on a regional basis but minuscule nationally. Both ESPN2 and NBC plan HDTV telecasts once the league returns, though ESPN2 first must pick up its options for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons.

Hockey, like football, is well-suited for HDTV’s movie screen-like wide picture, which is five times sharper than conventional analog TV. The league is also excited about the ever-expanding acceptance of HDTV, which saw more than 1 million sets sold recently during the run-up to the Super Bowl.

[Associated Press: NHL looking at new rules, becoming HDTV-friendly]

At least we have something to look forward to I guess