NHL Lockout: Why Fans Should Stay Away When Play Resumes

Garrett BakerSenior Analyst IOctober 4, 2012

September 13, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference at the Crowne Plaza Times Square. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

We are in the midst of the third NHL lockout in the past 18 years. And apparently, things are not looking good for 2012. 

As fans, I think we underestimate the effect that we have. The NHL has the most loyal fans in North America, and that is the real reason the NHL can afford to have these lockouts; they know that the fans will come back no matter what.

But what if we didn't? I'm not talking permanently, of course, but what if fans took a bit of a stand when this current lockout ends? 

As hard as it would be, if fans didn't attend the first game of the season, and then organized a way to boycott the first game of every month, or something along those lines, our voices would be heard. The exact logistics of how to boycott are irrelevant, it's more about the principle of standing up for ourselves, the fans.

The NHL relies much more heavily on ticket sales than the NFL, NBA or MLB does. Drastically lowering ticket sales for 10 games in a season could really send a message to Gary Bettman and team owners that they can't get away with taking away hockey from us this often.

Currently, we are sitting around during one of the worst economic periods since the Great Depression as millionaires argue with billionaires about how to split up the money they make from fans buying tickets to watch them play. At the core of it, that's really all the lockout is about.

The players and owners know they can get away with it because fans will come back in droves once it gets settled, like they did after the 2004-2005 lockout.

The NHL has been taking advantage of its fans for the last 18 years, is currently taking advantage of them now, and will continue to do so unless the fans attempt to take a stand.  

Maybe, if fans are successful in boycotting some games, the next CBA will be settled without a lockout. But it's more likely that they will come sprinting back as usual, and then be crushed in six years when this happens all over again.