Labor

NHL Lockout Over

50 game season salvaged

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The NHL and its players' union agreed to the framework of a new collective bargaining agreement early Sunday morning that is expected to be ratified by both owners and players this week. The deal will salvage either a 48-game or 50-game schedule after a nearly four month lockout. The pact is expected to last 10 years and split revenues 50-50 between owners and players, similar to the CBAs in the NFL and NBA. The players are set to return to the ice, but will NHL fans come back as well?

The 2004-05 NHL lockout that wiped out an entire season did not keep fans away when hockey returned in October 2005. In fact, it was the exact opposite in many cases. Attendance increased for the majority of teams with nine teams experiencing a bump of at least 5% compared to the 2003-04 season. The Pittsburgh Penguins led the way with a 33% gain, as recent top draft picks Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin made their Pens' debut. Attendance for the Carolina Hurricanes rose 26% thanks to the team's Southeast Division crown and first Stanley Cup title.

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  1. If fan attendance increased after 2005 it was probably because no sports channel would carry the NHL’s games anymore. (ESPN discovered, quite by accident, that they could get 3x the audience by airing poker tournaments instead.) Two years later a few NHL games were back on the air … on Outdoor Life Network, where almost nobody saw them. The owners did it to themselves and deserved every bit of the revenue loss.

    I can’t imagine this not at least happening again. I hope the Canadians follow through on their threat to take away the Stanley Cup and use it in one of their own leagues. And I hope Congress takes the hint and finally makes it illegal for taxpayers in any US city or state to buy a stadium for a sports team. Let the fans pay all their own bills, and they’ll have enough leverage to put selfish jerks like the NHL’s team owners out of business where they belong.

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