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Blackhawks Return to Ice After Year Off

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Oct 5, 2005 4:41PM

2005_sports_blackhawks_logo.gifThe Blackhawks join the rest of the NHL in their return to the ice tonight after losing the entire 2004-2005 season to labor strife. In the opener, the Blackhawks face the Anaheim Mighty Ducks at the United Center.

A lot has changed, both for the NHL and the Blackhawks. The Hawks have a new GM in Dale Tallon, a new coach in Trent Yawney and many new faces on the roster. Their biggest signing was former Tampa Bay goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. Other key additions include Martin Lapointe and Jaroslav Spacek. With their impoved lineup, the team that's only made one playoff appearance since 1997 is poised to return to respectability.

While Blackhawks fans are optimistic that the new coach and roster will dramatically improve the team, the entire NHL is hoping that changes to the rules will boost scoring and improve fan interest in the game. Already the red headed stepchild among the major pro sports leagues, the NHL has an uphill battle to win back fans after the first lost season due to labor issues in the history of pro sports.

Among the rules changes are new positioning of the goals on the ice, smaller pads for goalies and shootouts to determine winners in the case fo ties. The hope is that a more high scoring game will be more likely to draw in new fans and casual fans who realized they didn't miss hockey so much last year. Chicagoist, for one, didn't miss the sport. We're not sure that a few rules changes will do anything to change that, but we respect the NHL for realizing that major changes were necessary to fix the game. Hopefully, these changes will breathe new life into the NHL and the Blackhawks can become of the better teams in this new era. Of course, that's asking a lot of Bill Wirtz.