During the lockout last year, there were a large number of fans that claimed that they were done with the sport.
And then the lockout ended, and that idea was out the window.
There were also a lot of fans who said that they might watch hockey, but they certainly weren't going to spend any money on tickets or merchandise, in order to show the NHL how upset they were.
And then the sales and apology discounts hit, and that idea also went out the window.
How do we know this is what happened? Well, apparently the league has projected there to be roughly $2.4 billion in revenues this year. Given that this is such a shortened season, that's quite an accomplishment. Ryan Lambert has more on the numbers:
...That's 72.7 percent of revenues enjoyed in a full season from just 58.5 percent of the games, without the league's usual days-long cash-cow events. And it only serves to underscore the owners' belief that hockey fans are gullible money machines who will make willy-nilly purchases of tickets, merchandise, concessions and more like a teenager at the mall with mommy and daddy's credit card."
In Dallas, this increase makes sense. Most of the casual fans around the metroplex were not really disturbed by the lockout, since they had already forgotten that the Dallas Stars even existed. It wasn't until the massive ad campaigns by the Stars media team, combined with the mediocrity of the Cowboys and Mavericks, that people started to pay attention to the Stars again. This hasn't been the best season ever for Dallas, yet attendance remains strong, and TV viewership is up by a large percentage compared to last year.
But what about the teams in other markets?
I have to imagine that they are all in a similar situation compared to most of the hardcore Dallas fans as well. They hated the lockout, but it was more of a league business thing than an individual team issue. SO are they really going to punish their own team, the one they have followed for years and years, just to get back at Gary Bettman? Obviously not.
Of course, this sets up a dramatic problem when the current CBA expires, because the owners know that they can do it again, with absolutely no repercussions.
There's something to be said for blind love, I suppose, and NHL fans certainly have it for this sport. But it can clearly be cynically exploited, and knowing the owners as we now do, it's nearly impossible to see a situation in which they don't attempt to claw back an extra few cents of every dollar the next time they get the chance.
Fans haven't given them any incentive not to try.
Make sure you click over and giver the full article a read. The picture of Gary Bettman alone is worth it.
Coming up in the links: Razor has some thoughts on the season so far, another Shanaban is issued, and hockey has too many tie games for a professional sports reporter to bother caring about it.
- The draft next summer could be an interesting one. All non playoff teams will have a shot at the #1 pick. I swear, if it goes to the Edmonton Oilers again... [Stars Inside Edge]
- We might have more on this one later, but Dallas raised Chris Brown played his first NHL game on the night last night. He's the first true Texas raised player to make it to the NHL. He had 6:52 of time on ice, and registered a penalty. [Dallas News]
- I'm a couple of days late on this one, but Razor has a new blog post out discussing the Stars' season thus far. [Dallas Stars]
- Scott Burnside has his NHL Power Rankings up for the week. The Stars are slowly climbing their way up the middle of the list. [ESPN]
- Who wins in the new divisional realignment? Dallas isn't even mentioned in this East Coast view, other than this statement I wholeheartedly disagree with. "The Dallas Stars don't really have an ongoing war in the Pacific with anyone from California." Hm. [Sports Illustrated]
- There's practically a suspension a day now. This time it's Buffalo's Kaleta after his hit on Richards. This one earned him five full games -- the max that can be allowed without an appeal. [Globe And Mail]
- Canadians are in favor of a larger ice surface, as long as it makes the players safer. It will never happen though. Besids the nightmare logistics of remodeling every arena, the owners would have to sacrifice the revenue from their three most expensive rows to do it. [Globe And Mail]
- Here's a list of 10 NHL players that should have scored a goal by now. Can you guess who is on the list for the Stars? [Puck Daddy]
- Here's a great little tantrum video of a junior hockey player being ejected. Apparently causing a penalty to risk your team missing the playoffs isn't enough. You have to throw a fit about it too. [Yahoo Sports]
- For your video of the day, here's a good display of why a lot of fans have stopped watching ESPN entirely. Because the problem with the NHL is all the ties? Huh? You really have to check out Wyshynski's thoughts on this. It's great. [Puck Daddy]