With the NHL headed for its second work stoppage in 8 years, The Hockey Writers’ admittedly resigned Geoff Rosenthal suggests fans’ lack of will power renders them suckers. “As soon as the NHL and the NHLPA agree to a new CBA,” Rosenthal warns (echoing sentiments expressed by commissioner Gary Bettman), “you’ll be pumped and ready to watch hockey again. Thus, there’s pretty much an inelastic demand when it comes to hockey and hardcore fans.”
I don’t blame Bettman and I don’t blame Donald Fehr or Allan Walsh or ESPN or anyone. There’s no doubt that hockey is a business. I get that. But it doesn’t mean we need to be reminded of it with a lockout every few years. We’re already reminded of it when a jersey costs $300 or when ticket prices are raised even higher or when our favorite player isn’t resigned because the team can’t give him an additional $500,000. And we’re definitely reminded of it when the league brags about record revenues year after yeah. If the fans are the most important part of the sport (and I think in hockey, more so than any other sport, this argument can be made), then lockouts rooted in economics should be avoided.
That last statement is a special kind of BS, actually. Because even if I can make a pretty fair argument that hockey fans make the sport, the millionaires and billionaires who actually make the sport happen don’t care. I don’t even think they care about the business – not when they’re paying millions upon millions to sign the players they claim make too much. But when people get riled up because Bettman implies that he’s not worried about a lockout because he knows we will be back, they’re getting riled up over a true statement. Of course we’ll be back.