The fans have their game back. NHL hockey is about to be played.

But before we get too far down the road, it would be a mistake not to consider what the four-month owners' lockout taught about the finances and marketing of the league.

Lessons unlearned, or soon forgotten, often evolve into big problems in the long run. And as they evaluate the current caretakers of the game, including commissioner Gary Bettman, the owners, the players, Donald Fehr and other leaders of the players association, the best measurement for fans is how well they have nurtured the 98-year-old NHL.

Unfortunately, from the emerging picture of the new collective bargaining agreement, what fans can conclude is that beyond their great displeasure with another half-canceled NHL season lies another unattractive prospect: The result may do little to solve the financial problems of the league, the very issue that supposedly caused Bettman and the owners to take an onerous, hard line in negotiations.

With 18 of 30 teams reportedly losing money, little of the revenue from the big money makers shared with the losers, and owners nonetheless furiously outbidding each other for the highest-priced talent, Bettman and the owners were out to repair a broken business model.

It is galling to consider that, despite the huge disruption in the sport, they may have fallen short.

From The Detroit News: