Is the NHL Committing a Slow Suicide?

By Kris Hughes

Hockey fans are notoriously loyal– almost to a fault. This loyalty, however, is both the engine that drives the long-term sustainability of the NHL, and the very element that could eventually lead to it’s downfall. While I’m a passive hockey fan, I can recognize bizarre behavior when I see it.

As the protracted impasse between the league and the NHLPA continues, hockey fans across the country are beginning to wonder if there will be any pro hockey at all this winter– and from what we’ve heard today, odds are there won’t be.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly had the following to say this afternoon:

“I’m more discouraged now than I have been at any point.”

Well, ok.

How exactly should we interpret this?

Is it simply a statement to try and win some leverage– perhaps even some sympathy– from the players union in the hope that a compromise can be reached?

Is this truly, for once, Bill Daly’s feeling, and a reflection of how Gary Bettman may also be feeling by association?

Labor standoffs like this are always steeped in veiled emotion, smoke, and mirrors.

The fact is, hockey fans are beyond fed up at this point and if a resolution isn’t reached soon, you would have to figure whatever interest remains will slide to the side. At least, this is what seems reasonable.

In an American pro sports landscape where soccer is constantly gaining popularity and the NBA, MLB, MLS and NFL are all on seemingly solid footing the ice beneath the NHL’s feet– pardon the pun– is as thin as ever.

Can the NHL allow another strike to continue with their arms folded before loyalty erodes and the game changes in the states as we know it?

That question really should be posed to the NHL’s most loyal fans:

Where does your loyalty end and your willingness to walk away become kindled?


Kris Hughes is the College Football Network Manager for Rant Sports and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page.

Kris is the host of Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.

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