It took years for the NHL to bring back the casual fan from the previous stoppage. What Gary Bettman and the owners fail to realize or just don”t care to see, is that it won’t take but days to lose them again for a period of time that will hurt the viewership they have built in making the game strong again.
This lockout is not going to be productive for all parties involved. Since the midnight decision to keep the players away, we are now seeing some signings overseas from the leagues’ better players. They see opportunities to stay sharp and are getting paid to do it. The rumors are the NHLPA will not cave this time and if this is accurate we had better get used to not seeing hockey for a while.
Fans have witnessed over the past week owners such as the Bruins’ Jeremy Jacobs sign some of his core players to long-term deals in anticipation of the lockout. With all this strategic planning going on one has to wonder if all parties are settling in for a long stoppage, in which there are zero winners and all losers.The fans had hoped the league as a whole learned from its previous demise when ESPN dropped them. Instead, after getting a very good deal on a second chance from NBC sports, the power players calling the shots are gambling again that they will recover from another stoppage no matter how long it carries on.
The passionate fans will be back the moment the lockout ends, but how about the casual fan? When will they be back to help move the league forward to become more than just an afterthought. The owners and Gary Bettman had better smarten up or the uphill battle may be a much larger climb than they could have ever imagined.