It seems like yesterday we heard the NHL was entering another lockout. OK, it was yesterday. Think back further, like eight years ago, when the entire 2004-2005 NHL season was cancelled due to a lockout. Of course that lockout saved a lot of struggling franchises (except Atlanta), and established a salary cap, thus saving the future of the league.
Now it's 2012 and the league is almost 24 hours into its third lockout in 17 years. The battle over billions of dollars of revenue is on between billionaire owners and players making multimillion dollar contracts and those making the lower six figure salaries. Gotta love capitalism, labor unions and everything our great countries offer. While the high figure salary sides have their staring contest, hoping the other one will blink first, what about the fans?
Oh right, the fans. Hard to break this news to you folks, especially to the diehards (who I respect a lot, I am one) and ones who invest a lot of time and a lot of money into their clubs, but hockey "fans" are a different breed when comparing them to the fans of the three other big sports leagues in North America.
You got your die hard fans, and the season ticket holders who get excited for camps and count down to that second week in October. You invest a lot of your time and income into the NHL. Attempting to make 41 home games and as many 16 playoff games from October to June. I feel for you. Hockey isn't a cheap game.
For the other demographic. When the NFL season winds down, the weather turns cold and there's nothing else to watch on television in the dead of winter, you'll start watching. You'll watch especially when your team is playing well and is in a playoff race. It's like that with many sports fans. Fair-weather hockey fans are just easier to spot, especially when you're buying team gear in March.
For each side of the fan spectrum, no matter how many YouTube videos you make, no matter how many hateful tweets you may send out about Commissioner Gary Bettman, your voices are a faint whimper when it comes to the talks happening in New York City. The NHL is like any other business and league. Much like the NFL officials lockout, all we can do is sit back and deal with a lousy situation that could be dealt with in a perfect world.
You survived the 2004 lockout. What makes you think you can't make it through this one? There will be a season. It will just be a little shorter. You can hope for a start time around Christmas, or maybe start the season with the annual Winter Classic in its sixth year with the Red Wings hosting the Maple Leafs in an Original Six rivalry at Michigan Stadium in front of 110,000 plus fans on New Years Day.
Take in your local high school hockey teams, support your junior and minor league clubs as well. Pro hockey will return soon enough.