The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 09/04/12 at 08:20 AM ET
So here we are again, being taken for a ride by corporate entities and professional athletes who can’t agree on how to ration all of that ridiculous money they get from our generous spending on overpriced tickets, lamp-heated arena food, and jerseys that seem to become obsolete every other year.
Last time this happened, the players turned a blind eye to the state of league economics because they had it made and didn't want the party to end. In this current episode, the owners absurdly want to undo the deal that they themselves forcefully imposed on a fragmented union seven years ago.
Most of us who’ve been around the block a few times understand that the NHL will survive this lockout just fine, but some angry fans are proclaiming that there will be a backlash with enough impact to put a huge dent in the pocketbooks of the owners.
While their passion for this great game is admirable, their sense of history seems to be lacking.
I’ve personally lived through 17 of these “catastrophes” in the 4 major pro sports. Each strike or lockout that lasted an extended period of time was accompanied by forecasts of wailing owners and players on their knees in front of empty arenas and stadiums, begging for forgiveness. In every single instance, with no such tearful pleas being necessary, the fans sooner or later came back in full force.
Diehards love their hockey and will always return in droves. Casual fans enjoy a night out with a cold beer, high tech video and loud music on the jumbotron, and a game being played in the background. Strikes and lockouts have no long-term effect on the former and mean little or nothing to the latter.
Gary Bettman doesn’t earn his $8 million salary by not taking full advantage of this reality. Unconditional fan loyalty is most certainly in the back of his mind as he continues to tighten the screws on an NHLPA that will inevitably have no choice but to give in to the Evil Empire once again.
The excruciating 2004-05 lockout, so we were told by many, would diminish fan interest and cause permanent damage to the league. Instead, it was followed by four straight years of record overall attendance. That’s a result of leverage that owners have over the fans, not the players. We’ve proven time and time again that, regardless of our disgust over the behavior of the wealthy stewards who control it, we need the game.
There’s no reason to believe that Catastrophe Number 18 will be any different.
“Thank Goodenow For The Long, Dark, Cold Winter Ahead” – Dave Davis, New York Sportscene magazine, September 2004
“The NHL bounced back last season after a yearlong lockout, but what’s next?” – Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 2006
“Hockey fans: there is nothing you can do to prevent a lockout” – Harrison Mooney, Puck Daddy, September 2012
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]