So 82 games down… 1148 to go.
Players will officially miss a paycheck on Oct. 15. A total of 125 million dollars in salary lost. That’s 6.7 per cent of the total payroll for the season. The teams might lose just as much, if not more, in gate receipts, sponsorship and television revenue.
And while you can’t put a financial aspect on it, the fans lose out too. And you have to wonder, how quickly they will take their entertainment dollars to other sports and activities.
You see, as many compare this lockout to the one in 2004-05 when we lost a whole NHL season, people on the players’ side will tell you that they learned a great deal how to handle this situation. People on the owners’ side will tell you how much they learned on how to handle a work stoppage. But take note, the fans have also learned how to handle the situation too. And if you’re the players or the owners, you should take note.
Most fans are angry. Really angry. And quite frankly that’s a good thing.
Passionate fans are the core for all sports and it doesn’t matter whether you side with the players or the owners. Having an emotional, territorial opinion about the game is a good thing. Others are saying “just tell me when it’s over” but those will come back. With the lessons of eight years ago bouncing in their heads, these fans know how to find a way to spend their dollars and will become hockey fans soon enough.
But there is another group that should concern all the parties. It’s the group that says they don’t care. They just don’t care! They have turned their backs on the sport for one simple reason: they are tired. They are tired of the bickering, the rhetoric, the greed. And this group is growing.
They hear of the press releases from both sides that points fingers at the opposition. They read the quotes in newspapers, on Facebook and Twitter that have the players lobbying to make Gary Bettman public enemy number one. They go about their daily routines with friends and family and now have stopped thinking of the NHL. They never really cared at any time about the CBA, but it is now worse. They have stopped thinking about the Oilers-Flames game in early November, the Winter Classic at the Big House, where Roberto Luongo will end up and whether or not Andre Markov can play the year injury-free. They have just stopped caring.
Is it a large group? Not yet. Will they come back? Hard to say, but some have told me they are done with the NHL game.
You see, for the owners, it’s a business. For the players, it’s a business. For the fans, it’s a passion. And for many, who feel now they are on the verge of being jilted for the second time in eight years, it might be time to move on to others passions.
I hope both sides take note. Siding with the players is okay. As is siding with the owners. It’s those who don’t care any more, we should all be worried about.