The current NHL Lockout is over 100 days old and already has a bunch of casualties. The league’s announced that the 2013 Winter Classic and All-Star game, along with all regular season games through Jan 14, have been cancelled. For anyone counting that’s just over half the season. (Source: NHL) At this point there’s only two questions remaining to be answered–1)When will the entire season be cancelled and 2)If this season’s saved in the next month, will it be enough to win back fans?
It sounds like mid January is the deadline for the NHL and NHLPA to reach a deal, with the regular season beginning sometime around the third week. This is based on the fact commissioner Gary Bettman previously said 48 games is the minimum amount to save the season. (Source: ESPN)
The second question’s more difficult to answer because there’s so many varying opinions. Most die-hard fans will go back to games whenever they return. However, some may not be willing to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to buy season tickets knowing that another lockout could occur. Meanwhile, other fans have had quite enough. They don’t want anything to do with the NHL, going so far as saying they’ll boycott the league by not attending any games if or when those return. Yet another set of fans have said they’ll come back if the lockout ends in time for there to be a season, though shortened, this year.
Honestly, the NHL needs to do a lot if they plan to win back fans. Ticket prices may need to be cut, discounts offered or something of the sort. Also, fans should receive ample opportunities to interact with players whenever possible. The only thing we’ll say is that a simple, not as meaningful, “Thank You Fans” on the ice won’t win us back the way it has in the past. Why? That’s simple. We’ve now suffered through three, yes THREE, lockouts in less than 20 years! Regardless, there must be a 2012-13′ season. Without that, anything done will be rendered meaningless! Either way, the clock’s ticking with fans growing more apathetic by the day. If something isn’t done soon, the league won’t have many fans left by the time everything’s said and done.