The lockout could have cost us more than a season. It could have robbed us of the chance to see a few guys in action for one more season. Here are five players we might have lost if the entire season were lost (in other words, welcome back for at least one more kick at the can):
At 42, Selanne has continued to defy age while delighting fans and reporters alike. With 26 goals and 66 points in 2011-12, Selanne remains a vital part of the Ducks' power play and overall offense. One of these years, Selanne will finally call it quits, and the NHL will be a poorer place for it. But thankfully that time isn't at hand yet.
After spending three years in the Kontinental Hockey League, Jagr returned to the NHL last season, signing a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. He became a huge hit in the Flyers' locker room with his work ethic and interplay with the young players. Injuries slowed him as the season wore on, but Jagr was still a key cog on one of the NHL's most explosive forward units, playing with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. Jagr, who will turn 41 in February, signed a one-year deal with Dallas and should give the Stars terrific offensive balance up front along with Derek Roy and Ray Whitney.
Saku Koivu, Anaheim Ducks
Although his offensive production has slipped in recent years -- Koivu, 38, had only 38 points in 74 games for the Ducks last season -- he remains the consummate pro.
The classy Senators captain turned 40 in December, and there was much debate about whether he would return for what would be the final year of a four-year deal. We're happy to report Alfredsson will indeed be back on the ice for the youthful Senators, where he remains a key part of an evolving team, having scored 27 times last season as the Sens shocked most by qualifying for the playoffs and extending the New York Rangers to seven games in a first-round playoff loss.
The Timmins Tornado landed in Phoenix in the offseason after spending the 2011-12 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he played top-six minutes and controlled the puck on the blue line on the Pens' potent power play. After beginning the season playing with Evgeni Malkin, Sullivan played with captain Sidney Crosby for the latter part of the regular season and the playoffs. Look for Sullivan, 38, to have similar responsibilities with Dave Tippett's Coyotes, who will be looking to replace some of the offense lost with Ray Whitney's departure to Dallas.