Home > Commentary > With the NBA season cancelation virtually assured, will the NHL reap the benefits?

With the NBA season cancelation virtually assured, will the NHL reap the benefits?


With the NBA season cancelation virtually assured, will the NHL reap the benefits?

I recently read an article written by Bill Simmons. For those of you who don’t know who Bill Simmons is, he is considered the pioneer of sports writing on the internet. He started is own website BostonSportsGuy.com, before catching the attention of ESPN and eventually becoming an employee. In any event, along with the other sports Bill covers, Bill is a big NBA fan. So with the NBA season in the balance, the fight at a stand still, Bill wrote an article about his experience at the Kings home opener on October 18, 2011, which I also had the privilege of being in attendance for. Please see attached link for story: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7123705/arms-nhl

I want to echo some of the same thoughts and feelings Bill wrote in his article.

I have always been an NBA fan. Of course, not as big a fan as hockey (wink, wink), but a fan nonetheless. When as fans do we say enough is enough? When the NBA first locked out their players in June I thought to myself, “ok, this is just the first step in the process that will ultimately work itself out.” I thought the NBA would have taken some notes during what could have been a devastating season loss for the NFL. I thought the NBA would realize how bad a season loss would be and come to a decision that they wouldn’t want to do that. Why? Because losing a season is bad for everyone. Bad for the players, bad for the owners, bad for the people who work in stadiums and forums across our great country. And as the local business around the Staples Center can attest to, bad business for them. With no Laker and Clipper games, our local businesses are hurting. Translation, zero dollars and zero cents. So I ask you, why has this ridiculous lockout continued? I think the answer is, that common sense and rationality are rare commodities these days.

With so much riding on the season, why can’t people with brains come to a fair and equitable solution? It’s a jungle out there and everyone is out for themselves. Out of the many, many mistakes both the players and the owners have made over the last several months, I think the biggest one of them all is that they thought the NBA fans would stick around. My response to that is “Nuh-uh!” I have plenty of sports to hold my attention. I have the NFL, MLB and the almighty NHL! The NBA is NOT the NFL. Because football is so regarded in this country, if the NFL canceled their season, fans would be pissed for sure. But they would just wait until it all blew over and go back to business as usual. I don’t believe the NBA fan base is that lucky. I believe people are sick and tired of all the B.S. and are willing to try something new.

Which brings me to the heart and soul of this blog: will the NHL benefit from the NBA lockout? I believe the answer to that question to be a resounding “hell yes!!” California alone has three major hockey teams. The San Jose Sharks, the Anaheim Ducks and last but not least, the Los Angeles Kings. If people like Bill Simmons are correct, the NHL will surely fill the void of those NBA fans staring hopelessly at their blank television sets. And I’m really hoping that the NHL has a serious revival. Not only because I am an NHL fan, but because the sport of hockey seems to be the bastard step child of professional sports. Mention you’re a fan of hockey to a friend or relative who is not already a fan and you may get a quizzical look on their face. Walk into any Southern California sports shop and tell me the first thing you see? Dodgers merchandise, check. Angel merchandise, check. If you didn’t see a bazillion Laker jerseys or shirts with the name B-R-Y-A-N-T on it, I think I would have a heart attack. But try and find a Kings, Ducks or San Jose shirt and I’ll bet you anything you would be hard pressed to find one.

Hockey is a great sport. One of the best that professional sports has to offer and it often gets ignored. What is there not to like about hockey?! It’s fast paced, physically tough, requires a high degree of skill and you can fight someone!! You get penalized heavily in the NBA and NFL if you do that in their leagues! The NHL has a great fan base. As mentioned earlier, I was at the Kings home opener on October 18th. The energy in the room was so positive it was almost physical. I’ve been to NBA games and it’s not even a close call.

And if you don’t think hockey players are the most in-shape athletes you have ever seen in your life, let’s put those out of work NBA players on some skates for awhile and see how they do. Or if you want a laugh, let’s put a 300 lb lineman on skates and see how long that lasts!?!

The NBA has some serious issues to deal with. The U.S. economy has changed and the NBA needs to change their economic model to match that of reality. More people are willing to invite friends over and share a meal and drinks around their televisions then they are to spend the sums of money required to go to an NBA game. Parking, ridiculous food and alcohol costs, etc. Logic and rationality needs to return to the NBA. If not, players, businesses and fans will suffer the consequences.

So while your waiting until next year for the NBA to return, why not give the NHL a try? The NHL will welcome you with open arms. That is of course, until their collective bargaining agreement expires next year on September 15, 2012. (Sigh)

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  1. October 28, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Here Here! And, here’s to hoping that the NHL CBA talks go a lot smoother than the NFL and NBA. The NHL’s strike and loss of a full season is still fresh on a lot of puckheads minds and a loss of any games won’t be taken lightly.

  2. October 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I would love to see people flock to NHL games (and am a fan myself) but until the old joke of I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out goes away there will still be many would be fans that will pass. But I hope for the best because hockey at it’s best is fantastic!

  3. chicagoj1
    October 31, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    I think your comment brings up a couple of great questions. If they removed fights from hockey, would that make you feel better? Do you think a group of previously “uncatergorized” people would then suddenly flock to hockey games?

  4. October 31, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Personally, I think that the fights in hockey are what draws the rabid fan base to the games and, at least to an extent, draws in the curious as well. Were the fights removed (after all, players involved in altercations already receive a 5 minute trip to the sin bin) that might actually cause a drop in attendance/viewership. For a relatively new hockey fan like myself, I’ve accepted it as an inevitability that they may occur during a game, just as I would expect that not every occurrence of holding be called in an NFL game. The old saying among pigskin faithful (fans, players and coaches alike) is that holding occurs on every play. Only the most egregious and obvious get called however. Football would be a dead sport if they called every hold and I believe the same would happen if fights were eliminated from hockey.

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