Coming out of a yearlong coma induced by a labor dispute, NHL teams return to the ice today.
Will the league be able to bounce back like blood off the ice after a good fight?
The first concern is TV coverage. ESPN declined to pick up the sport this season. The Outdoor Life Network (OLN) will air games, but the network's lack of experience with sports coverage, save for the Tour de France, could be a downfall.
Spending a season off the skates may have hurt the health of some players. Without the physical rigors of playing constantly, some lost their physical prowess. Others, who maintained their physical fitness by playing in Europe, are returning to the NHL with injuries.
Rule changes, such as the size of goalie equipment, will surely change the pace and the feel of the game. Tied games are a thing of the past. Now, every draw will be decided by a shootout. Hockey purists may not like it, but the NHL hopes the changes will increase the leagues appeal.
After a period of readjustment, players and fans alike should be just as passionate about the sport.
Even with the setbacks, real hockey fans will keep the sport out of the penalty box and on the ice.