On-ice officials might be the least appreciated people in the NHL, but the league finally seems to have realized that things could be much worse without the oft-maligned men in stripes working games in the regular season.
On Monday, the NHL and the NHL Officials' Association reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year collective bargaining agreement. The agreement still needs to be ratified by both the membership of the NHLOA and the league's board of governors, but it appears the threat of a strike or lockout of officials has been averted.
The league's officials have been working without a deal in place throughout the preseason after their previous agreement expired on Aug. 31.
The Hockey News reported last month that the league had contacted minor-league officials to work as potential replacements, but the unpleasant scenario of employing scabs has seemingly been avoided with this tentative agreement.
Fans might not always agree with the decisions made by the league's referees and linesmen, but putting less-qualified personnel into those positions of authority hardly seems like a better alternative.