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The Puck Stops Here

Early Fan Feedback Promotes Another Lockout

The recent three lockouts have shown that the NHL's only method of seriously negotiating with players when the Collective Bargaining Agreement ends is to lock the players out.  They have found this is the most successful way to extract concessions from the players.  Under the owner's model this is a positive financial move.  Sure the NHL will lose revenue during the games lost to the lockout but the player's concessions will pay for the lost revenue plus a healthy profit.  This assumes that revenue is not jeopardized over the long-term with a drop in fan interest.  We are seeing in the short-term as the NHL has returned that assumption is correct.

The NHL is proudly telling us how great their television ratings have been at the start of this season.  NBC's ratings in the United States show a record high since hockey returned to NBC in 2006 for a regular season game.  They set records in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Chicago.  In Canada, Hockey Night in Canada set records with its "prime east" game between Toronto and Montreal and its afternoon game between Winnipeg and Ottawa.  The fans are clearly back - at least in the television audience. 

If the fans are back, long-term revenue has not been jeopardized by the recent lockout.  If lockouts do not hurt the NHL long-term, it is time to plan for the next one.  It is in the NHL's financial interest to have one.

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Comments

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This fact should lead the players to make the best and longest lasting deal they can, without losing many games. A lesson they failed to learn from the last lockout!

Posted by timbits on 01/22/13 at 01:33 AM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

And what should the players do if the NHL doesn’t even table a serious offer until well into the next lockout - as happened this time?

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 01/22/13 at 01:35 AM ET

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Then I guess they lose 700 million or more again, plus take a deal they don’t like.

Posted by timbits on 01/22/13 at 01:42 AM ET

redxblack's avatar

The season has been on for three days. There have been two games on NBC. You don’t need to be a social scientist to understand that is a blip, not a trend. Also, take into account the massive promotion going on right now around the league to lure fans back. Last night’s Nashville game was free to those who went to the opener. $7 tickets in Miami will certainly help attendance. In short, it will take several weeks to see if “the fans are back” or if the fans are reacting to promotions.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 01/22/13 at 08:40 AM ET

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i never liked the argument that the league or players should quickly make a deal or they are going to lose fans.  I am not sure there is any evidence to support that statement in the NHL.

The MLB did lose fans in droves after their lockout, but I feel that was because it did nearly nothing to help half the teams in the league compete.  When you have teams paying 200+ million a year on salary versus teams paying 30-40 million a year, there is going to be a huge problem with competition.  You can either agree or dissagree with the arrangment, the truth is the fanbase for the team with 40 million a year is giong to have a hard time rooting for their team year after year (or year after 20 years) when they dont even sniff the playoffs.

As long as the NHL keeps the competitive format… where teams like the Rangers can not simply buy a stanley cup, then i feel like the NHL will always have its fans to count on… regardless of how many games are lost bickering over how the pie is split.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 01/22/13 at 08:46 AM ET

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Nashville game was free to those who went to the opener. $7 tickets in Miami will certainly help attendance.

And what do the $9 tix in Detroit mean?

Posted by timbits on 01/22/13 at 10:36 AM ET

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Haven’t we had enough Lockout talk?

Posted by 13 user names on 01/22/13 at 12:52 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

$9 mid week tickets means that even Detroit is engaged in begging fans to return. The Miami tickets aren’t for Thursday night games, though. Besides, rain man celebrating the non-effect of the lockout without using numbers is pretty ironic, and makes a weak case weaker.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 01/22/13 at 04:42 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

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