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Hello .... hello .... hello ....

You there, in your game-worn Yvan Cournoyer jersey. Don't go all Bob Probert on me for what I'm about to say.

Which is, the NHL has officially locked out its players. And the vast, vast majority of American sports fans don't care.

Look, you know and I know that hockey is the best of all sports, especially in the playoffs. There's nothing quite like playoff hockey. Nothing.

But let's face it: The wider world couldn't care less, which makes it a niche sport. And now the geniuses who run the NHL and NHLPA have decided to make it even less relevant than it already is.

Really, guys? A lockout? Like that theoretical tree falling in the forest when there's no one around, do you actually think it's going to make a sound?

You don't grow your sport by making it disappear, Harry Potter-like. Especially when it's so unnecessary.

For that, I largely blame Gary (Call Me Commissioner Until The Real Thing Comes Along) Bettman and the owners. They're asking for major concessions from the players even though industry revenues have grown by a third, from $2.1 billion to $3.3 billion, under the expiring contract.

How does this makes sense (except from the standpoint that people in these positions are just naturally greedy)? And how can you be so insistent about it that you're willing to blow up a product that needs as much nurturing as it can get?

This isn't just dumb and dumber. It's dumbest.

Ben Smith's blog.