Where are you getting your info? Did you rate popularity by the amount of TV coverage? The facts are that the game is more exciting for the fans and the players are better off since the last lockout. More teams are competitive. Also hockey in general is on the rise with more and more kids around the world playing because more communities are getting facilities. Like I said before, this lockout is not like the last one. There are far fewer issues to be worked out. There will be a regular season although shorter(which is not bad for everyone) and the playoffs will happen in 2013. The NHL has more TV deals already in place than they did in 2006. Hockey is on the rise and will keep rising with or without an NHL this season. So in the long run this is barely a bump in the road. Anyone who tells you different is sensationalizing to sell papers or get more hits(shocking).