I used to think, probably 4 or 5 years ago, that all the hoopla about how the game is boring now was true, but I think it is more a case of evolution. The trap was invented/employed, defense took prority as in most other sports, and in terms of skill (not to be confused with talent) the average player started catching up with the best players which made defending against them even easier.
I've come to the conclusion that excitment in hockey is generated by mistakes. You get excited when your team capitalizes on another's mistakes and something good happens. Players are in fact so good today, and systems are so finely tuned at the NHL level, that mistakes are fewer and farther apart. I mean hey, people say soccer is boring, that baseball is boring, that basketball is boring and even that football is boring. However, when it comes to the World Cup, World Series, NBA playoffs, or the Super Bowl everyone is a fan.
I think there are things about the game that can be tweaked in order to create more mistakes (no red line, bigger nets, smaller goalie gear) but none of that has anything to do with collective bargaining. I'm not so sure I want NFL style parity, but I'm also not sure that would happen if the NHL was capped. The answer is staring everyone in the face - a luxury tax - which is what makes the ego war even more frustrating as a fan.