NHL TV viewers slow to come back

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NEW YORK (AP) - The NHL is hoping its television viewership will bounce back from another lockout.

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Ratings rebounded - eventually - after the last work stoppage, which wiped out an entire season. Healthy numbers from recent years in many cases matched or exceeded pre-lockout levels in an era of ever-increasing entertainment options.

When this year's lockout-shortened slate opens Saturday, NBC will show the Los Angeles Kings raising their championship banner, then regional coverage of Blackhawks-Kings or

Penguins-Flyers. The network plans to show the most hockey since it started televising the league after the last lockout, with 14 regular-season windows for games.

Executive producer Sam Flood says: ``The hockey fan is a passionate group, and we're cautiously optimistic they'll come back.''

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