The NHL should make an effort to lower ticket prices when the lockout ends and the 2012-13 regular season finally begins, but how likely is this scenario?
Instead of ticket prices going down when the 2004-05 lockout was finally over, many teams' prices have risen to some degree in the seven years since, disappointing hockey fans everywhere.
We could see a different approach by the owners this time around because fans will be much less likely to support the NHL following this lockout than they were in 2005.
The league must reward the fans who have stuck with the sport and their favorite team(s) by lowering all ticket prices for the shortened 2012-13 season.
How many games do you plan on attending if there's a season?
It's difficult to determine what a team's ownership "owes" to its fans, because at the end of the day, running a sports franchise is a business, and the goal of a business is to make money.
However, the owners would be foolish to think that fans will continue to buy expensive tickets when they are taken advantage of every time a collective bargaining agreement expires.
One of the only ways for teams to ensure that revenue doesn't decline too much following the lockout is to lower ticket prices. You may think the opposite would be true, raise ticket prices and make up for revenue lost, but doing this would likely cause even more fans to leave the sport and never come back.
Fans won't want to spend a lot of their disposable income in a challenging economy to support greedy owners.
What the owners need to do is look at the larger picture. To build a loyal fanbase, especially in a sport that has frustrated fans with two lengthy lockouts in seven years, you have to make your fans happy. There aren't many things that a sports team can do to excite their base more than lowering ticket prices.
Many fans are thinking about leaving the NHL for good because of the current lockout, and to persuade these people to return to the sport when the season commences, lowering ticket prices would be a good idea.
Owners also have to take into account that a lot of hockey fans probably spent their NHL ticket money to purchase tickets to watch AHL, NCAA and CHL games during the lockout.
These people probably won't pay higher prices for NHL tickets when they can see quality hockey at the junior, minor and collegiate levels for half the price in some cases.
If the NHL and NHLPA expect the league's revenues to grow at the rates they have used in their CBA proposals, they cannot anger the fans any longer. They are the people who will ultimately determine the amount of revenue the league generates.
The NHL must apologize to its fans when this lockout is over, and step one of this process should be ticket price reductions.