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Even as it comes a little closer to a deal, according to the invaluable Eklund's Hockey Rumors, the NHL just keeps sliding closer to oblivion. reports that ESPN has decided not to renew its option to broadcast NHL games next season.

Let's think about this for a moment. ESPN was paying $60 million a year to show NHL games, including the Stanley Cup finals. That's $35 million more than the Yankees (and Rangers) are paying Alex Rodriguez this year. And that price is now too much. We're telling you, if the lockout lasts any longer — or if they even cancel the next season — you're going to be able to buy TV rights for three easy installments of $19.95 (plus shipping and handling).

ESPN Declines NHL Option []
Factions [Eklund's Hockey Rumors]