Gary Bettman ponders his plan for the next lockout - Ethan Miller, Getty
The lockout is over. Hockey fans everywhere are overjoyed, excitement levels are unmatched. Everyone wants to run down to their local team's arena and catch a game at long last. The best sport to watch live is back. Everything is great, right? No more lockout, right?
Wrong. The next lockout starts today.
When fans ran back in record-number droves after the last lockout, this lockout was all but assured. We told them that they could treat us like dirt, take us for granted and we'd come right back. One might even argue that demand was pent up when the league went away, and the fans came back stronger! We removed ourselves from the cost/benefit equation when both sides stared down the prospect of a work stoppage. No one on either side feared a loss of market share, revenue, or interest more than they feared the other side.
And that's our fault.
We moan about how broken the product is to have all these lockouts and point fingers of blame at owners or players, yet we continue to pay for it!
NHL fans practically define the term enabler.
When the owners or the players decide to go forward with a work stoppage, they make a choice. They choose to cut off current benefit, in this case money, in hopes of achieving larger benefit in the future. They exert self-control in an attempt to preserve their future, and the future of the game.
As hardcore fans, we must do the same. The league, both owners and players, must cease to take fan interest for granted. The only way that will happen is to use their tactics and keep them from our wallets.
The way I figure it, between this lockout and the last I've lost a season and a half of the NHL. So that's what I'm going to take back. I will exert self-control to send a message to both sides: you take us for granted, and I'm done with it. I'll watch on TV, I'll putz around the internet fan sites, but I'm not spending any money (I spent an average of $500 a year the last 5 years and I bet that's below average) in your arena, on tickets, or on merchandise for the rest of this season and the next.
I encourage you all to do the same, even if it's only for this season, but the longer you can control yourselves the better. In fact, I think a great protest would be to go support the establishments around the arena and watch games there instead of going to the game itself. That way the right people get supported and wrong people don't.
It wouldn't take that many people controlling themselves to send a real monetary message and prevent this from happening again. Don't reward bad behavior from these children again. When that ticket agent calls you for a 14 game pack, tell them courteously that you are a huge fan and spent a good amount of money on the NHL previously, but you're not going to reward their treatment of us by spending your money with them for some time.
Tell them that we're locking them out. Let's stop the next lockout before it begins.