Monday, July 15, 2013
A skeptic's 2012-13 review: the lockout
By Paul Grant
Fans were quick to embrace the NHL after the lockout.
After years of following and covering the NHL, some people gain a certain skepticism when it comes to the way the league operates. However, most journalists are able to shake free that skepticism and move on.
Thus, a skeptic's first in a series of five things we learned from the 2012-13 NHL season:
1. Talk is cheap: Think back to late 2012, after games started dropping off the schedule because of the lockout. Not long afterward, fans were done. Many of our writers -- including Pierre LeBrun, who covered the 2004-05 lockout extensively -- were surprised by the level of vitriol and bitterness around the whole mess, aimed at both the players and the league. Granted, social media wasn't a thing in those days, but there was no denying the mantra that it's different this time and there will be consequences.
Then, after months of negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA, scores of the usual bargaining shenanigans and hours spent by reporters huddling against the cold in an unintentionally ironic setting of a bank-machine foyer, the lockout was mercifully settled and ... everything went back to normal.
Actually, strike that. Everything went to abnormal: revenues, attendance and ratings went through the roof. The NHL lost 58.5 percent of its games but made 72 percent of its full-season revenue, not to mention the pure gravy for the 16 playoff teams. The shortened regular season experienced 97 percent capacity and the playoffs were at the mathematically impossible more than 100 percent capacity. You get the point. Fans came back in droves.
Generous take: Hockey fans are an extremely forgiving lot.
Skeptic's take: We are suckers!