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Testing The Fans Again

A Globe and Mail editorial,

National Hockey League teams, particularly in this country, enjoy a rather enviable arrangement with their fans. No matter how much they raise prices – for tickets, for merchandise, for concessions – supporters keep showing up, in some cases regardless of whether the teams win very often.

And yet those teams and their players continue to have a difficult time living up to their end of the bargain – which is simply playing the games they are scheduled to play. It was less than eight years ago that the NHL missed an entire season because of a labour dispute. With commissioner Gary Bettman threatening yet another lockout if there is no new collective agreement with the players’ association by Sept. 15, it now appears headed toward its third lengthy work stoppage in the past two decades.

With fewer teams facing financial difficulties than previously, the latest trouble appears to be caused less by urgent flaws in the NHL’s business model than by a dispute over how to divvy up the spoils of fans’ loyalty. Players now receive a 57-per-cent share of (consistently rising) revenues; team owners think it should be well below half.

Neither side seems to feel a great imperative to reach a compromise. The league and the union appear to have been emboldened by the response to the last lockout; if fans returned in droves then, they surely would again.


Filed in: NHL Talk, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink


NIVO's avatar

I don’t think this aspect has even been mentioned yet but i’ll give it a go. This lockout doesnt just ruin it for fans, it goes way deeper. Also in some ways it can even reach deep into your own pockets. The local economy disruption is what im getting at here. I’ll give just a brief scenario of what I mean. I’m in Ohio, so naturally I travel up to the great state of Michigan for my beloved Red Wings. In doing so I acquire tickets for the game. I buy merchandise at the game or at a retailer in and around Detroit. I buy gas, sodas and snacks, pay for parking. I buy dinner at a real nice place either before the game or after as we travel home. I can easily spend $200+ minimum for just a game with some friends or family members who join me. And thats on the lowside of spending, it can be much much higher of course. Now, you take away the season and   all that money disappears. All the local businesses and folks who count on the money for survival is GONE. And it will happen in all 30 areas if a lockout occurs, not just Detroit. Looking at that on a grand scale really puts things in perspective. Sure fans lose, but more importantly some people may lose out on life.

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 08/13/12 at 04:22 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

NIVO, absolutely, that was a very real issue last lockout and I’m sure you remember the impact it had in Detroit, especially since Michigan kind of “led the recession” and started having difficulties before the 2008 collapse.


Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 08/13/12 at 09:39 AM ET

MNWing's avatar

The fans will come back in strong markets.  A lost year could be the final nail in the coffin in places like Florida, Phoenix, Long Island, and even in Anaheim. 

A lockout may not be all bad if the NHL comes back as a 26 team league. Imagine the skill picked up in that dispersal draft. 

Never happen, but think about how good the league would be with that talent spread amongst the remaining teams.

Posted by MNWing on 08/13/12 at 10:38 AM ET


A lockout may not be all bad if the NHL comes back as a 26 team league.

It will more likely come back as a 32 team league than 26.

Posted by timbits on 08/13/12 at 11:25 AM ET

MNWing's avatar

It will more likely come back as a 32 team league than 26.

Unfortunately, that is true. Further dilution of talent pool already stretched thin.

Posted by MNWing on 08/13/12 at 12:55 PM ET

hockeychic's avatar

Once again it is the fans and the sport that lose.

Posted by hockeychic from Denver, CO on 08/13/12 at 02:59 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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