NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

November 21, 2012

NHL needs to respect its fans

There is no professional sport working harder at marginalizing itself than the National Hockey League.

We’ve gotten used to the occasional strike or lock-out in professional sports. It’s been part of the landscape for decades. But these kinds of disputes are infrequent, in large part because owners and players seem to realize that their wrangles over money are largely meaningless to the legions of fans who love to watch the games and follow the subplots and drama. Those fans form the foundation of their wealth.

In the past couple of years, there’s been labor disputes in three of the four top professional team sports — football, hockey and basketball. But the NHL has distinguished itself for throwing itself over a self-indulgent cliff.

One-third of this year’s season has been canceled due to a player lock-out. There’s been some efforts made at getting the two sides together this week, but if the talks break down there is a real chance that the entire season will be canceled.

The NHL infamously canceled its entire 2004-2005 season due to a labor dispute that resulted in a lock-out. It seemed poised to cancel the next season, or perhaps bring in “scab” players. But both sides came to that magic realization that fans had become alienated and the sport was losing support. Things were patched up, problems with the sport itself were fixed, and the games resumed.

Then, the improbable happened. The NHL became one of those rare labor dispute success stories, with profits setting new records each year. Indeed, last season was the most profitable and successful the sport has ever seen, with some $2.9 billion in revenues (by comparison, the National Football League brought in $9.5 billion, Major League Baseball brought in $7.7 billion and the National Basketball Association brought in $4.3 billion).

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Under Armour Launches Biggest Women's Campaign with Inspiring Ad NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner was homicide: medical examiner Christina Aguilera Pulls a Demi Moore! Man with no arms throws first pitch Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2"
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans