You’re an NHL fan. You spend your hard-earned money every year going to games. You buy merchandise. You subscribe to Centre Ice. You’ve been through one, maybe two lockouts, and even a strike if you’re really old. And now they’re threatening to make you go through yet another lockout.
This makes you mad.
So mad, in fact, that you’re willing to take action and show the world just how angry you are. And maybe, just maybe, your action combined with the actions of thousands of other outraged fans might even have an impact and a lockout will be avoided or at least shortened.
Well, you have every right to be outraged. But make no mistake, the angrier you get and the more you show it, the more you ensure the lockout goes on.
Think about it. Putting effort, energy and passion into showing your displeasure and trying to avoid a lockout just shows how passionate about NHL hockey you are. And if you’re passionate enough to take time out of your day to go and protest at the NHL offices or boycott NHL-related businesses, you’re sure as heck passionate enough to come back to the rink no matter how long the lockout lasts:
And this is exactly what the owners are counting on. From their perspective, the NHL really does have the "world’s greatest fans:"
In the lockout-shortened season of 1994-95, each game averaged 50 more people in attendance compared with the previous season. The results were more impressive for the 2005-06 season, the first full year of hockey under the expiring CBA. The NHL reported a 2.4% increase in attendance over the 2003-04 season, and in the process, the league averaged a record 16,955 fans per contest. For the next three years, the NHL continued breaking its regular season attendance records.
Let that digest that for a second.
Need a Tums yet? You will.
A couple of weeks ago, @draglikepull put together a nice little summary estimating team-by-team ticket revenues, which added up to $1.2 billion. So if this lockout is anything like the last one, you the NHL fans, will flood back to the tune of about $30 million in additional ticket revenue. (Note: This is for illustrative purposes only. Past performance is not an indication of future results.)
So what’s an NHL fan to do when throwing a tantrum is actually counter-productive? Hopefully if you’ve read this far down, you’ll know the answer is not: "spend countless hours putting together a video with really nice production values based on the Howard Beale rant from the movie Network in the hopes of getting fans to unite to stop the lockout." I mean, nice sentiment, but shame about the facts:
No, as Motley Crüe put it, "Don’t go away mad. Just go away." The owners are not going to be at all concerned about what you the fan thinks about the NHL as long as you’re still thinking about the NHL:
So if you want to make a difference, go away. And I don’t mean go watch other forms of hockey like Juniors, the AHL or the NCAA. That’s like going on methadone. The owners know that once you get a sniff of the good stuff, you’ll be back mainlining it like, well, Motley Crüe in their heyday.
For real impact, go away to one of the other major league sports. Drive up the attendance of your local NFL, MLB and, god forbid, NBA team. Buy their merchandise. Subscribe to their cable, pay-per-view and online access packages. This you can do loudly.
Because, ultimately, the most likely way to end this lockout is to appeal to the owner’s greed:
* You may wonder what this has to do with the NHL lockout ending, but rumour has it that Gary Bettman negotiated the rights to hold the Winter Classic in Hell should it ever freeze over. All it cost him was getting booed at every public appearance he ever makes. Small price to pay, in the overall scheme of things and just one more example of his shrewdness as a negotiator.