NHL Lockout: The Forgotten Victims of a Potential NHL Lockout

Carol Schram@pool88Featured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2012

NHL Lockout: The Forgotten Victims of a Potential NHL Lockout

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    There are less than two weeks to go until the September 15 expiry of the NHL's current Collective Bargaining Agreement. No new talks are scheduled between the league and its players, and the prospect of a lockout is starting to look inevitable.

    As the millionaire players and billionaire owners battle for their rightful piece of the pie, it's easy to feel indignant at the selfishness of both sides. We want our hockey!

    Let's not forget that an NHL work stoppage runs much deeper than simply putting the players out of work. Inside and outside every arena, there's a trickle-down effect.

    Here's a look at the people and businesses who stand to lose if the NHL locks out its players on September 15.

1. Bars, Restaurants, Hotels and Retail

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    NHL hockey is an attraction, especially in Canadian cities. Fans travel from far and wide to see the games.

    That normally means economic benefit to the hotels, restaurants, bars and retailers that surround NHL arenas. Without the games, these businesses won't see their usual crowds.

    The Shark Club in Vancouver sits across the street from Rogers Arena. Owner John Teti tells CTV News he normally employs 30 employees for games, as opposed to less than 10 on a normal night.

    In our situation we obviously aren’t going to be hiring, like we would normally be bringing on some extra people. And plus our regular staff, there’ll be cut backs now in their hours. There’ll just be less work, less days.

    Pubs and restaurants that show the games on TV in their venues will also see their business impacted.

2. Arena Staff

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    Every NHL team employs hundreds of people off the ice in order to bring fans the ultimate game-day experience.

    Whether it's the concession workers, the arena hosts, the parking attendants, the ice girls or the technical staff, missed hockey games mean missed hours of work. Opportunities for alternative employment are also limited by the fact that these workers will be expected to be available to return on relatively short notice once the lockout is settled.

    CTV News reports that Rogers Arena in Vancouver employs 1,500 staff members in total, in varying capacities. Some jobs will continue, but many will see reduced hours or be cut completely in the event of a lockout.

3. Referees, Linesmen and NHL Staff

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    NHL officials have their own union, the NHL Officials' Association, and they have a valid contract with the league. They have only participated in one short-lived strike, back in 1993.

    During the last lockout in 2004-05, Jim Kernaghan of the London Free Press reported that the officials had bargained away their prior right to two-thirds of their salary in the event of a lockout. Now, they receive no money, although they do still get medical and dental coverage.

    Looking at how the officials filled their time and their wallets, Kernaghan found Kerry Fraser selling real estate in New Jersey while Don Van Massenhoven was a two-time salesman of the month at Dale Wurfel Pontiac Buick GMC in his hometown of Strathroy, ON.

    Other referees and linesmen were taking courses, doing odd jobs or teaching math. Most were playing rec hockey and enjoying time with their families, since they are often on the road for most of hockey season.

4. Writers, Broadcasters and Media Outlets

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    Newspapers need readers. Radio needs listeners. Television needs viewers.

    The audience is what media outlets sell to their advertisers. They make their money by delivering potential consumers.

    In recent years, it's become harder and harder for traditional media to maintain its foothold, which has impacted revenues and, subsequently, jobs.

    In the changing landscape, sports has remained a strong property. Live events can still draw large audiences to TV and radio, and people will buy newspapers and read them online to catch up on the latest results and rumors surrounding their favorite teams.

    In Canada, no NHL means no Hockey Night in Canada on CBC, no Wednesday night hockey on TSN, no regional broadcasts on Sportsnet and on radio, and nothing to fill the front pages of the sports sections. The loss of content will mean lost advertising dollars. The media conglomerates will suffer and so will those who are paid to write the stories and produce the broadcasts.

5. Charities and Community Organizations

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    The NHL and its member teams support a number of charity and community initiatives, including Hockey Fights Cancer.

    In Vancouver, the Canucks have just announced the disbursement of $4.1 million in grants raised through the Canucks For Kids Fund in the last year. Over 25 percent of that money came from the 50/50 draws at games. Missed games will mean missed fundraising opportunities, and could also put other initiatives like the annual Dice and Ice event or the Telethon in jeopardy.

    Additionally, Canucks players are strong supporters of Canuck Place children's hospice and BC Children's Hospital. If players are not in town, sick kids will miss out on the boost that they get from player visits throughout the season.

    If both sides are willing, there is still time to come to an agreement before September 15. Do it for the kids!


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