The lockout has insulted the NHL's lifeblood—the paying customers.
When the work stoppage comes to an end, the league will try to make gestures to show those fans that they are not taken for granted.
Will they be sincere in their apologies? Who knows?
But the league should take some tangible steps to "make good" for the damage that it has caused with yet another lockout.
The NHL Center Ice package allows hockey fans to see out-of-town hockey games that would normally not be available to them.
The NHL allows fans to pay for this privilege on a per-month basis in conjunction with cable and satellite broadcast systems.
At various points in the year—usually the start of the season and right after the All-Star break—the NHL will give this package away for a week at a time so that fans can see how it works.
To make good after the lockout, the NHL should give the Center Ice Package away for a full month, or perhaps two.
The NHL must show its appreciation to ticket buyers.
In cities where teams do not sell out regularly, allow fans to buy two-for-one tickets.
For franchises that sell out regularly, give season-ticket holders a 10-percent rebate on all tickets for games that will be played.
(Obviously, they get a full refund for games that were not played.)
This may hurt owners, but they have to demonstrate that they care about the paying customer.
Going to an NHL game is an incredibly expensive proposition.
One of the most painful parts of that expensive sojourn is paying for parking.
Give the fans a break and eliminate parking costs for the first two months after the lockout ends.
This is another way of showing fans that they are not being taken for granted.
There's nothing like paying for tickets, parking and settling into your seat and realizing how hungry you are. Then you look in your wallet and realize you have nothing left.
Yes, you could take out a second mortgage, but that wouldn't be prudent. (Thanks, George H.W. Bush for that one.)
How about the NHL owners take this one on the chin for a season. Give the fans a 50-percent discount on concessions for the season.
No, it's not the concessionaires who would take the hit. The owners themselves would make it up to them by paying out of their own pockets.
It would be a grand gesture.
This one's on the players.
It would help them win back the young fans, and in turn, those fans' parents and guardians.
Have all players make themselves available for twice-a-month autograph shows.
One could come after home games. Players would come back on the ice and sign autographs for 45 minutes to one hour.
The other autograph session could take place at an outside venue so fans who don't get to games would have a chance to collect signed sticks, jerseys and other paraphernalia.
It's a gesture that many would appreciate.