by PuckStopsHere on 01/22/13 at 01:25 AM ET
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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