Hockey Fans: How They Feel About an NHL Lockout

The Impact of an NHL Lockout on the Hockey Fan

As an NHL hockey fan the worst time of the year is often mid-July to early September when there is no NHL hockey being played.  In 2012, it appears that NHL hockey fans will get the shaft once again as Gary Bettman prepares for yet another NHL lockout.  The fact is that we are eleven days from the NHL’s third lockout since 1994.  On September 13, Gary Bettman will then ask the Board of Governors – via a vote – whether they are supportive of his strategy to lock the players out on  Sept. 15 if there is no agreement on a new, long-term – not short-term – CBA.  Hockey fans are expecting a lockout.  Some feel it may be a month or two, other fans are worried that another full season could be lost.  All of this as millionaire player fight with billionaire owners.  At this point, the league wants the players to accept a six-year deal that reduces their shares of monies to 46 percent (the union says it’s really 43 percent).  Currently the players have about 57 percent of the revenue.  The thing is, is that both sides do not agree what hockey-related revenues (HRR) consist of.  So let’s help define hockey related revenue for both sides.

Definition of Hockey Related Revenue

Hockey Related Revenue (HRR) – monies that fans spend on NHL tickets, merchandise, luxury boxes and related NHL hockey items that generates funds for billionaire team owners and millionaire players.  The 2011-2012 season saw the National Hockey League generate a record $3.3 billion in revenues last season.

As a hockey writer, I respect Marc Spector.  I don’t always agree with him, but I respect his perspective.  He recently wrote a piece that I thought laid it out pretty clearly with regards to the NHL and NHLPA in their “stalemate”.  In his post Spector mentions the following:

We are in a recess, the leaders of the game tell us. It is about hockey related revenues, escrow, and other bleary numbers that do not represent goals and assists…

It is about a report by colleague Eric Francis out of Calgary that the Flames have put their front office staff on notice that pay cuts loom. About some quotes from Vancouver about the 1,500 game day staff at Rogers Arena who are in line to start missing paychecks.

It is always with news like this that the absurdity hits home: One day a 20-year-old Taylor Hall is signing a $42 million contract. The next, a guy who makes an extra buck hawking popcorn at NHL games, or the woman who counts dearly on her game-night tip money, is looking for some other way to make their car payment.

All so some owner who thought hockey was going to fly in Florida can sip a better brand of vodka.

All because of a bunch of hockey players somehow believe they are entitled to 57% of their sport’s revenues, while their colleagues in football, baseball and basketball all work in the 48-50% range.

So, while we can’t wait to watch the game that has become a part of our country’s fabric, played at its highest level by National Hockey League players, we instead get the mental image of watching hockey’s economic pendulum swing back towards the middle.

One thing that really stood out from Spector’s piece was the mention of the now-famous video montage put together by Finnish hockey fan and TV editor Janne Makkonen.  The video really is quite amazing and has gone viral with positive feedback from players and fans alike.

While this is one perspective from a hockey fan, it is one shared by many.  An NHL lockout looms, hockey fans are not happy about it.  Bettman may be good at his job, but he is not good for the game of hockey.  His time will expire.  The players are overpaid, is the entertainment value worth what they are paid?  More on this in an upcoming post.  For now hockey fans also need to explore their options in the event of a lengthily NHL lockout.

10 Things Hockey Fans Can Do to Offset an NHL Lockout

  1. Take in some local or junior hockey.  If you are lucky to be in a town or city with junior hockey be sure to take in some exciting hockey where financials are not at the heart of the players who are playing the game.
  2. Hockey Parents spend some time with your son or daughters at hockey practice as their season begins this autumn.
  3. Watch a good hockey movie.
  4. Read a good hockey book.
  5. Watch some AHL hockey on your favorite sports channel.
  6. Organize a hockey fans hangout on Google + and talk hockey with other hockey fans.
  7. Watch some CHL hockey on your favorite sports channel.
  8. Read some of our favorite posts from The Hockey Fanatic or visit your favorite hockey blog.
  9. Go out and play some hockey yourself.  Try ice hockey, floor hockey, ball hockey, mini-stick hockey, field hockey or whatever type of hockey rthat you have access to.
  10. Watch some NFL football.

I started this site because I am a passionate hockey fan.  I enjoy conversing with other passionate hockey fans such as Janne Makkonen.  I don’t know if Gary Bettman or Donald Fehr are passionate hockey fans.  They both have a job to do, they just need to do it. Marc Spector was correct when he said,

By the time of the lost season of 2004 the players were raking 75% of league revenues, a figure that was immediately dismissed by the P.A., but never accurately refuted. It took the owners a lost season to get the players down to 57%, and now the pendulum still has some swinging to do to get to an even 50-50 split in revenues.

So, hockey fan, that’s what you get this fall: A mental visual of a swinging pendulum. Top that off with a heaping helping of labour rhetoric from both sides, a bunch of owners who secretly don’t mind losing games because they struggle during the American fall anyhow, and players who really can’t tell you why they deserve 57%, only that they know they do.

It’s not exactly what you signed up for, is it?