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Endangered NHL season to hit ice via video games

Cable channel G4techTV promises to make the 2004-2005 season happen one way or another.

As a tussle between players and owners threatens the National Hockey League's 2004-2005 season, cable network G4techTV is promising to make it happen one way or another by staging video game versions of the games.

The network, formed last year from the merger of video game specialist G4 and foundering technology channel TechTV, said it will start airing virtual matches Oct. 13, the day the season would normally start. G4 players will play out all 1,230 regular season games, if necessary, G4 said in a statement, with results and highlights recapped nightly on the sports-themed show "Sweat."

NHL owners locked out players two weeks ago after the two sides failed to agree on a contract, due to disputes over salary cap mechanisms proposed by owners. Two previous labor disputes stretched on for more than half the season, and observers say this year's strike could last even longer.

"Millions of die-hard hockey fans on both sides of the border are upset," Charles Hirschhorn, CEO of the network, said in a statement. "Until the lockout ends, G4techTV will be there."

Video games have frequently been used to re-create key games in real-life sports, with faux Super Bowl and World Series events common--and sometimes uncannily accurate--in predicting real-life results.

G4 hasn't yet announced which game will be used to reproduce the hockey season--options include Electronic Arts' "NHL 2005" and Sega's "ESPN NHL 2K5." Be suspicious, though, if the Philadelphia Flyers fare remarkably well. The team is owned by media giant Comcast, which launched G4 and later merged it with TechTV.