NEW YORK—A little less than a decade ago, hockey fans were blessed with a slate of games every night, but on Thursday sources confirmed that for the ninth consecutive year NHL players have been locked out, with very slim hopes of an agreement in sight. “It seems like just yesterday Martin St. Louis and his Lightning teammates were raising the Stanley Cup,” high school hockey coach and onetime ESPN analyst Barry Melrose said. “Obviously, I’m still hoping the two sides can come together and reach an agreement, but I’m starting to think nobody really misses hockey anymore. Nope. Nobody but old Barry. I’d still love to catch an Atlanta Thrashers game.” Observers have noted that when arena doors do reopen, the NHL will face the perhaps greater challenge of convincing fans to return to hockey instead of watching more popular sports like football, basketball, baseball, and SlamBall.