If the players weren't allowed to sign with European teams, this lockout wouldn't have materialized.
The fact of the matter is this. The owners are their own worse enemies. I'm sorry, you can't hand out 90 million dollar contract to JAGs like Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, and then cry about rising costs.
But having said that....the NHL is THEIR (the owners) league. The players are certainly well compensated as it is (compared to what players were paid 20-30 years ago). I don't think the players have a leg to stand on.
If the European leagues honored the NHL's lockout and didn't sign defectors....i believe a new CBA would've been agreed upon by now.