If the NHL cancelled its season, would anybody notice?

“Stupid is as stupid does”

 –  Forrest Gump

Over the past few years, we have debated in painstaking detail which of the four major, sports commissioners is more useless.  Depending on their gaffes du jour, Bud Selig, Roger Goodell, David Stern and Gary Bettman have all resided uncomfortably in that high chair.  This week, the honor belongs indisputably to Gary Bettman.

The NHL, which stands for the National Hockey League in case any of us have forgotten, has announced that the league over which Bettman presides, has canceled all regular season games through mid-December.  That includes the All-Star Game, another one of its games which nobody watches.

I am by no means a hockey fan, far from it.  I’ve never played the game, am horrible on skates and prefer all my teeth intact.  Since I didn’t grow up with hockey, I don’t really understand the game, the spacing, the rules, the fussing and the fighting, but I will tune into important games of the season.  I also live in a city that boasts a fairly decent and promising, young hockey team.

That means I probably would have attended a few games this season and spent my hard-earned money on tickets, gear and concessions.  I would have talked about the sport with friends, written about it on my website and perhaps even generated a little interest among my following.  Thanks to the current labor dispute, that will no longer happen.

Over the years, I’ve asked fellow, more hockey-oriented bloggers to turn me on to the sport.  Consider me a fan on the verge.  Now, I care less than I already did, which is about the same effort shared by players and owners.  It’s like taking a product off the shelf of your local market that nobody was buying in the first place.

I don’t mean to pick solely on the NHL.  The NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball have all had their labor disputes.  Games have been cancelled and seasons threatened.  But they also got things done.  All three of those sports are currently thriving while hockey is a sport many of us can already live without.

I can’t help but wonder how many fringe fans like me the sport is losing, how many future generation fans will be lost and how many life-long fans will get fed up considering this will be the second full season cancelled in the last ten years.

I’m not going to get involved into the details of who wants what.  You can find that elsewhere.  As in every labor dispute, no one outside the boardroom wants to hear millionaires squabble, baby squabble, baby squabble, baby squabble while the rest of us can’t afford to pay our mortgage.  The pie is big enough to appease all parties, so cut up a slice and let’s eat already.  Instead, the fans are left with a plate full of crumbs.

So Commissioner Bettman, as a non-fan whose opinion obviously matters little, I should at least do my part in warning you that your tenure will be remembered by the fact that you failed to grow your sport, featured two work stoppages and did an absolutely horrible job in taking advantage of the personalities, talent and marketing opportunities your sport so desperately needed.

Once upon a time, the NHL was the fourth major sport.  These days, for most of us, it’s just another game not being played.


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44 Replies to “If the NHL cancelled its season, would anybody notice?”

  1. Pingback: If the NHL cancelled its season, would anybody notice? - BallHyped Blog Network, NHL | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. As far as I’m concerned, they could cancel the entire sport along with NASCAR, curling and luge. All of them are useless.

  3. I may be wrong, but I think its in the Bible. It can’t be called a sport unless its played with a ball. So listen up ESPN, stop televising those lame poker tournaments.

  4. Lingerie football qualifies. There is a ball and I’m not counting the 2 that I’m playing with.

  5. Snake…

    I actually used to watch those poker tourneys religiously back when I was playing a bunch.

    Not so much anymore since I’ve mastered the art of poker.

    I’ll let you know the next time I hit a lingerie football event since they have a team here. Put you on the SportsChump payroll… which basically just means I’ll buy you a Crown.

    Just make sure the authorities don’t see you playing pocket pool. We can’t get thrown out of the arena for being dirty old men… or can we?

  6. I like hockey and miss it but, like you, not nearly as much as I expected. This labor dispute has probably set the sport back by many years. I will let NCAA hoops console me.

  7. I’m guessing I would be one of those “more hockey-oriented bloggers” you would be talking about.

    In any event, there’s another collaboration between Meehan and myself coming on this very subject. It may be published as early as later today.

    Consider yourself warned.

  8. While I am ok with or without Hockey, I must admit I do enjoy it when I get to see it…andn yes, I do occasionally go the games. I was introduced to the sport a couple of years ago from a friend who had season tickets to the Ahaheim Ducks. I would notice! All I can say is WOW! While not a die hard fan, I can say that from my first introduction, I got completely caught up in excitement the pace, the bad calls, the fighting and the crowd. (there are a lot of beautiful women who go to hockey games…at least out here). I thoroughly enjoyed myself and have gone to several matches since then. It is unforunate that the commish, has to be in the hot seat when there is so much potential…Is it really that hard to share the wealth? I wonder how much of this is infleunced by the absurd dollars floating around other major sports. It will never, (not in my lifetime), be the draw that the NBA or NFL have, but it has been around for a long time and certainly deserves better leadership. I wonder if they have an opening?

  9. Yessir… people would notice. It all depends where you are in the country. There are all kinds of people up here where I am located that are really down about the whole thing. I think if you were to go to places like Pittsburgh, Detroit and Boston, where people bleed hockey… they are missing it badly. Now sunny, palm tree-laden places like TB, not so much… but hey your town, doesn’t really seem to bother attending any game for any team. Perhaps the real question is… if professional sports was blacked out in TB, would anyone notice? Ha ha, just messin’…

  10. Chris

    Would you be able to abstain from sex for six months ? Yes or no ? So why bother with the NHL . All you need to know is that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman , is the poor man’s answer to David Stern , Bud Selig and Roger Goodell all rolled into once . From an economic and competitive standpoint the NHL is a poorly ran business , attendance with meager tv ratings , marginal appeal nationally , and internationally , the only time there’s any interest to be shown is during the Winter Olympics .

    Less we forget also, the Executive Director of the NHLPA is none other than former MLBPA Executive Director Donald Fehr . And Fehr as we know was involved in the last MLB lockout .

    Tophatal …………..

  11. Being a Florida boy I have to say that I’m not much of a hockey fan. Spending my summers agonizing over the Rays team batting average and the fall driving myself crazy with the Bucs and Gators I feel no need to inflict further anxiety on my already fragile physce.

  12. Yaz…

    Speaking of college hoops, I do like the Gator basketball team this year far more than I would.

    And are you chuckling at my poker skills?

    Speaking of, since Bill’s wedding, are Friday poker nights still on?

  13. Dub…

    That, perhaps, could have been you.

    Okay, so it was.

    I just wanted you to know I was thinking about you and that I can kind of, sort of, write about hockey.

  14. And by seeing the Ducks, G Mony actually meant going to Best Buy on Black Friday (why’s it gotta be all about black!) and buying the complete DVD box set of Emilio Estevez’ “Mighty Ducks” compilation, of which I’m glad to say I think there’s only two films but didn’t take the time, or know ahead of time, that there were actually more than that.

    Mony’s right though. How long until the educated lot of us sports fans put the games aside for more important things because of these disputes and how many of us have already done that?

  15. KP…

    I’m not talking about those cities. That’s hockey’s stronghold and yes, I know they can’t be happy.

    But other than those fans, hockey doesn’t draw. Check the television ratings.

    Oh, and for the record, the Lightning were 13th in average attendance last year, which was better than the Islanders, Devils and yes, the Boston Bruins.

    Does it bother you to be wrong all the time or are you just used to that by being married?

  16. Al…

    Please tell me you weren’t comparing hockey to sex.

    I was going to go on about sex but your mention of Donald Fehr got me frighteningly out of the mood.

    But then the thought of a midget-tossing spelling bee?

    I think you’re on to something.

  17. Aer….

    Speaking of the Rays, what do you think of the Longoria signing and what do you think that will mean for the likes of David Price when it comes to his contract renewal?

  18. Chris

    I liken hockey (NHL) to going to a party , and there are several hot chicks in a room and up comes an ugly chick , fat , with spots , and the fact that she’s willing to “put out” is meant to be alluring .

    Unfortunately , the only person interested in the “ugly chick” ….. will be the guy who’s drunk and desperate to get laid . .Is that succinct enough with regard to how most now look at the NHL and hockey in North America ?

    If you can’t find how best to split , a $2.5 billion piece of pie , then your a#s (NHL hierarchy & players’ union) isn’t worth sh#t .

    Great contest between the Bucs and Falcons , but way too many mistakes made by the players on offense . The good thing is that they’re still in the playoff hunt .

    Tophatal ……………

  19. How many teams in the NHL have declared bankruptcy in the past six years ? Bettman simply hasn’t a clue , and this coming from a guy who learned his trade under David Stern , as legal counsel for the NBA .

    Tophatal ……………

  20. I think it means that the Rays have arms to spare and they’re going to deal some of them. As for Longo the bottom line is that he put butts in the seats therefore a vey valuable asset. I don’t know exactly how long they can hang on to Price. Hopefully until they get a new broadcast deal and are able to resign him.

  21. As previously warned, Ryan Meehan and I broke this NHL lockout down to some crucial points nobody is talking about.


    One thing we didn’t mention in that piece – The thing that hockey has in its favor is that it has international popularity. That’s where the growth potential is, and that why sports like soccer, hockey, basketball, and even baseball (once they figure out how to turn the World Baseball Classic into a model more like FIFA and/or FIBA)have the best chance to capitalize on that. If Gary Bettman wasn’t channeling his inner Roger Goodell, hockey has all the potential to be a serious growth sport in both North America and Europe.

    Think nobody cares about hockey? As of the writing of this comment, the poll on this very blog was running 70-30 in favor of hockey.

    As for the Rays, they’ve just set themselves up for the same problem the Twins have with Joe Mauer.

  22. Al…

    Are you calling Dubs the drunk, horny guy at the party?

    I’m sure he’s been called worse.

    Yeah, tough loss for the Bucs. And now they’re off to Denver? Why do I have a bad feeling Peyton Manning is going to carve up this secondary? The Bucs are due for a bad loss.

  23. Al…

    I don’t know what to tell you about bankruptcy in the NHL but if they can’t run their business, perhaps they should get out of the industry altogether.

    I’m surprised to hear the Rays and that kind of number thrown around at all. $100 mil? Who knew they could ink a check like that.

    Have you heard about anyone showing any interest in BJ for that price?

  24. Aer…

    I’m just concerned that those arms will dry up eventually. Sure they’re loaded now but if we start losing names like Price and Shields simply because we can’t afford them, that just leaves us with a bunch of rookies and no tutelage for them.

    I imagine you’d have to keep one of those two guys.

    I don’t have a problem with the Longoria signing and I have faith that the organization will do the right thing when it comes to signing the rest of the important pieces.

  25. Dub…

    I was actually surprised at those numbers. Wait, it didn’t allow you to vote multiple times, right?

    I didn’t think any of my readers gave an icy damn.

    But I do agree with you on the international popularity and growth potential of the sport. And I did see that your post is up. I just wanted to give it the time it deserves.

    As usual, I’ll be over in a bit.

  26. I am still rooting for at least a partial NHL season. While clearly a “spotty sport” in the States as opposed to a national treasure across Canada…while clearly no longer worthy of being called the “fourth major sport” by any stretch of the imagination…hockey here in Philadelphia is indeed missed. I certainly understand those who think hockey could go away for good and no one would miss it…but of course they’d be wrong. Parts of the other side of the world enjoy the sport also. I doubt hockey will grow further in the U.S. but it does have global appeal and the NHL may be able to leverage that to increase its margins.

  27. You can dump the NBA and MLB while you are at it…but that is just me talking. I have no use for any of them.

  28. SA…

    One would think hockey is a sport that could ill afford another work stoppage.

    Don’t NHL players have options to play overseas that the NBA, NFL and MLB players don’t have?

    Personally, I’m with ya’. I’m hoping there’s a season but if there’s not, my life will go on.

  29. Show me the business template that the NHL operates under . Bettman is clueless , yet fans maintain that the sport is popular ? Where ? Other than when the Olympics comes around these as#holes (NHL hierarchy) would find it difficult to sell ice to the Eskimo’s . It has no viewership in terms of ratings and the NHL has been paying NBCSports to carry its content . How’s that meant to make any goddamn sense ?

    Tophatal ……………..

  30. The interest is there for B J , but there’s even bigger interest being shown in his younger sibling , Justin Upton . It would appear that the Diamondbacks can’t afford to retain him for next season.

    Justin isn’t a free agent until 2016 , but the financial situation with the organization is dire at this juncture , and the ownership group , it appears , would rather see what they can get for the talented kid .

    Tophatal ………………..

  31. Growing up in Cali, hockey wasn’t a major sport for us. However, in the mid-90’s prior to the major expansion of the league me and many of my friends wee getting into the sport big time. But after expansion and the strikes, little interests me about the NHL…though I’ll never turn down tickets to minor league hockey. Gotta love all the fights.

  32. Al…

    Business template? The NHL has a business template?

    Is it written in crayon on scratch paper?

    I haven’t heard too much out of Bettman during this stoppage, not like I’ve been paying all that much attention, but at least Stern was vocal during the last NBA lockout.

    At least we saw his face. What’s Bettman doing exactly to get his sport back on the ice?

  33. Al…

    The Bay area’s long had a love-hate relationship with BJ but I don’t think he’s all that bad a player.

    A fresh start somewhere else may be just what he needs.

  34. Bill Daly , Deputy Commissioner and Bettman , make Bud Selig and Rob Manfred seem like goddamn geniuses . Yet fans are talking about growth of the game and international popularity ? . Those two a#sholes within the NHL hierarchy show about as much common sense as can be found in the US Congress . And that my friend is not that much at all ! What a joke !

    The NHL doesn’t know how to market its brand . How the $$ck can they be paying a broadcast outlet (NBCSports) to show their content on national television ? Tell me how the hell that’s supposed to make sense ?

    Oh , how bright are these alleged NHL fans out there ?

    Tophatal ………….

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