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How Much Anger Will The Fans Show?

from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,

Players and owners both know angry fans will return, because anger is a telltale sign of passion, commitment. Frankly, it’s that anger and passion that served as the co-enablers of this lockout. Gary Bettman and his brazen band of billionaires wouldn’t resort to shutting out the house lights so often if they truly feared fans would walk away for good.

But apathy is the canary in the industry’s coal mine. If all these “Never again!’’ and ‘”Who cares?’’ and “I’m done!’’ e-mails and tweets are true — and if they serve as fair and accurate reflection of what has happened across North America — then the league, the players, and their union will be returning to a massive M*A*S*H unit when business resumes. That’s when they’ll find out whether all the angst, arm-twisting, and chokeholds were justified.

Too often forgotten in these bargaining wars is that neither side is actually fighting over its money. It’s the fans’ money, every penny of it, be it directly through ticket, cable, and merchandise sales, or via corporate/advertising sponsorships that are also funded by consumer dollars. Both sides are fighting over your dough, and it seems more and more NHL fans comprehend that now after a third tango here on “Dancing with the Dunderheads.”

All these games and leagues are built on dreams, magic, and nostalgia. To be reminded time and again that those elements only serve to mask just another North American business, a profit/loss sheet, ultimately erodes the patina and the passion.

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redxblack's avatar

I figure I spend about $200 a year (conservatively) on licensed merchandise, and about $600 a season on tickets to games. I spend very little inside the arena on beers, so that aspect won’t cost them much. But I also live 2 hours from the nearest NHL arena. I’m not the demographic the league expects to get in the seat. I’m a good consumer and spend my cash every year on Center Ice and the sports package to get six games a year on Versus/NHL Network. Still, I’m a small piece of this. Yet I spend close to a thousand dollars a season for hockey. After this lockout, I won’t be doing it again. I already have too little space in my closet for more sweaters or hats, and I can’t support team owners who leave fans hanging out to dry. I’ll do my best to watch every game through clandestine means, but the NHL won’t see another dollar from me for the foreseeable future.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/30/12 at 10:42 AM ET

Vladimir16's avatar

I sure hope the three guys who say we’ll all come running back, spending our hard earned money on the NFL, pipe up soon.

Posted by Vladimir16 from Grand River Valley on 12/30/12 at 10:47 AM ET


I’ll say the same thing I’ve said before: The vast majority of people who are yelling now will be back… most immediately, some eventually.  The small minority of fans who do stay away will be replaced by population growth.

The people posting on a largely NHL hockey blog about how done they are with NHL hockey?

Come on.

These are people who swear off drinking while in the midst of a hellacious hangover.  When you’re suffering the nasty part you hate it.  When the good stuff is happening?  All in.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/30/12 at 11:03 AM ET

starsfan26's avatar

As redxblack said, you can be an NHL fan and still not spend a dime.  Watch games on the channels you already pay for, read blogs/TSN, etc. 

The test will be if the season ticket holders return.  Also, a full arena doesn’t mean the fans are “back”...all the US teams, with few exceptions, offer ridiculously low priced seats.  Some of the ads I have seen on Center Ice in the past seem like they are paying you to attend…“Two tickets, two drinks, two hotdogs for $10!”

Posted by starsfan26 on 12/30/12 at 12:32 PM ET

BrendonTO's avatar

Like its been said here, there are plenty of ways to stay a huge fan without spending money.  I know for me personally, the funds I would have usually spent will go to this website and Paul in the form of donations instead.

Posted by BrendonTO on 12/30/12 at 01:41 PM ET

SYF's avatar

I’m four hours away from L.A. and about six hours away from Phoenix.  Just the gasoline alone back and forth will set me back over $150 and I still haven’t bought tix to the game when the Wings roll in on their twice annual West coast swings.  I gotta account for the hotel, food, sundries, and parking fees and those costs alone will set me (and just me) back an additional $500-some odd dollars.  Now, if I want to bring someone along, it’s double.

Fuchers better make it worthwhile to bring me back to their towns.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 12/30/12 at 01:47 PM ET


As redxblack said, you can be an NHL fan and still not spend a dime. 

Oh, heck yeah.  I stopped being a primary revenue provider to pro sports years ago.  Big TV, nice chair, nice speakers, dark room, bam.  Better than live.  Hence the screen name.

But that doesn’t matter to them, just to me.  They will get their money from the legion of other people who will pony up to buy a seat, a jersey, a DVD, a foam finger, 20 dollar parking spots, 10 dollar Jack and Cokes, whatevs.

And they’ll still really get their money out of me, just not from me.  They’ll get it from advertisers and TV deals.

This is why I pish-posh the notion that this lockout will be the one that really kills the NHL.  It wasn’t the one in 2005.  It wasn’t the half season lost in 1995… it’ll be this third one that really seals the deal.

Nah.  It might convince a few people here or there to stop offering up their wallets to the altar of professional sports, but we’re dealing with such vast economies of scale here what 1, 10 a 100 or even a 1000 people all do at once is completely irrelevant.

I mean… Penn freaking State, people.  That’s not going to destroy a team or a sport but a second lost season will?

Fans are way, way waaaaaaaaaaay more forgiving than a lot of people think.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 12/30/12 at 04:58 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

Legions can’t fill locked arenas. They also don’t watch AHL talent at NHL prices. The NHL is doing a very dangerous dance.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/30/12 at 11:35 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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