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Jonathan May said on October 18th, 2012 at 6:46 am

The League That Cries Wolf

The NHL is big business, well it is big business to the fan. In the grand scheme of sports, the NHL provides a niche sport an opportunity to showcase on a national stage. But this national stage is losing room for the NHL and after the cancellation of the preseason and first two weeks of the regular season, the NHL may not see the growth and excitement it did after these same exploits in 2004.

After the 2004 lockout, fans came back hungry and rejuvinated for hockey. The addition of a salary cap meant that teams throughout the league now were on a level playing field. New rules ensured fan excitement and the promotion of skill and scoring rather than rough and tumble, clutch and grab hockey. The NHL came out of the lockout with increased attendence, scoring and increased sponsorship for all 30 teams.

Now, fast foward to 2012, the NHL seeing no rush in ending a lockout between the rich (players) and the richer (owners) is relying on the fans once again to make it, A.O.K. after this is all said and done. Let’s face it, owners won’t let this go on much longer because rich owners tend to get a little irritated when they start to lose money. Players the same, so the onus is now squarely on the fans. Will the fans react with open arms like welcoming back a loved one from an extended vacation or will the crowd simply move on.

You can only promote a sport and it’s sponsors when the league is actually playing games. Fans can only buy the 8 dollar beers when they’re at games. Clients can only be entertained when there are skates on the ice. All of this works against the NHL and this time around there won’t be the same warm hug waiting for them. After the courtesy emails have been sent apologizing for a lockout, what is left for a team to do. I’d hate to be in that PR department for two reasons, one all the angry fans need to be addressed and 2. you need to perform this job knowing full well your job isn’t just on the line, it’s also on the clock.

The NHL needs to end this and stop playing this game with the fans, it’s unfair and when the money isn’t coming in like it used to, the fans can always stop buying as the ultimate, “I told you so”