NHL Lockout Continues to Alienate Hockey Fans

As an NHL hockey fans, how can we continue to show the love for the game that many of us have grown up watching and wishing to be a part of?  Four work stoppages in twenty years, a full missed season and we are on the verge of missing a second full season.  All because billionaire owners and millionaire players cannot decide a fair split of a $3.3 billion piece of pie.  Jeez it just does not seem right does it?  People are starving in the world, men and women are out of work as they try to support their families and the average Joe or Jill is just trying to keep his or her head above water.  Yet seven hundred plus players and 30 NHL owners are well plain ruining it for NHL hockey fans.  The business of hockey was good, but this latest NHL lockout in 2012 is helping the League take a major step back.

For one thing, there is widespread disparity in profits for its 30 teams.  There are a handful of teams that will always be successful, but there are a number of teams suffering financially.  Gary Bettman’s plan to expand in southern markets has failed miserably (see Florida, Dallas, Phoenix etc.).  We have teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets who from the perspective of this hockey fan are a joke.  Better team like the Nashville Predators simply don’t have a hope for long term success.  The NHL game is on “thin ice” (total pun intended) and this latest lockout imposed by Gary Bettman continues to flip the bird to NHL hockey fans across the globe.  Hockey fans are passionate and opinionated as we have seen in some of the fans’ thoughts that we have previously shared.

The longer the NHL lockout goes the more fans will walk away.  Especially in the weaker hockey markets.  But what about Canadian hockey fans any chance that they will boycott the game when it returns?  I think this time around we just might see some long time Canadian NHL fans think long and hard about their support for the league.  There are four main reasons for this.

Four Reasons the NHL Hockey Fan Will Ignore the Game

  1. Lack of faith in the NHL product – the league is already watered down and the fact that there are players in the NHL who play a total of 6 minutes per game yet earn a million plus per season represents a bush league.  Fans do not go to games to see these players; they haven’t in the past and will not in the future.  The NHL not only needs to improve their on-ice product but needs to remove the teams from weaker markets and consider placing them in stronger (i.e. Canadian markets).
  2. The world’s economy is in the toilet – as a result attending a professional sports game is fast becoming an experience for the wealthy as the middle-class get pinched harder and harder.  Hockey fans having to listen to players and owners duke it out over $3.3 billion of the fans money?  I don’t think so.  Hockey fans are pissed off and rightfully so.  The game is expensive to attend.  I went to a game in Washington last season between the Capitals and the Devils.  $10 for a cardboard tasting hamburger, $14 for Nachos, not to mention the ticket and $20 or whatever it was for a foam hand souvenir for my son and you can see where I’m going with this.  Entertainment or not the League and the Owners are in for a reality check.
  3. There is no brand loyalty anymore – the NHL’s brands (i.e. the teams) are in markets that people don’t care about.  The NHL does not have a major TV deal in the US and quite honestly the selling of the NHL brand has been terrible in the past twenty years.  I’m a marketing professional and I can see a number of faux pas and issues that the NHL has conducted that has damaged the brand and alienated the fans.
  4. 4 work stoppages in 20 years – you do the math.  What fan in their right mind would continue to support a league that cannot put a product on the ice or field?  Not many in my estimation.  Sure the NHL and the players sign a deal, but what happens in six or eight years when that agreement expires?  You guessed it, another lockout.  Gary Bettman has inadvertently done some serious damage to the game.  Damage that might not ever be fixed.  Hockey fans have every right to be fed up.  The NHL, the players, the agents have alienated the fans on too many occasions.  Expect the fans to take a bit of a stand, this time around the fans will think twice about spending their time and hard earned cash on the NHL product.

  5. I love the game of hockey but the NHL and their “business of hockey” has turned into a joke.  My son will never be able to see the game of professional hockey as it should be seen, a fast, competitive game where the players respect each other and play to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup over their head.  I loved growing up watching the Edmonton Oilers dynasty of the eighties.  No work stoppages, hockey dominance and a twenty-one team NHL.  A Canadian team has not one the Stanley Cup in twenty years and that is just not right.  A fourth work stoppage in twenty years is just not right.  There is not a lot right with the NHL right now.  As a hockey fan, something is not sitting right with me.  The lockout has really made me think about my support for the NHL.  As much as I, like many hockey fans, loathe Gary Bettman, I am on the side of owners.  It is business for them, they assume all of the risk, the players are handsomely paid for their efforts or lack-there-of for many.  The NHL has done a number to their fans and it is almost certain that they have lost fans for good.