The NHL lockout is all but officially over. Management and labor have come back down from the ledge. Yet, reading The New York Times this morning, you would think they jumped to their deaths.
“Fans might not be ready to move forward just yet — there is certain to be lingering anger…” declared Jeff Z. (Zamboni?) Klein, the author of a stream of gibberish that somehow qualified to have the word “Analysis” placed in the headline.
Of course there is anger, you twat. Hockey fans don’t really have a substitute. When the season ends in late (late late) Spring, they count the days until the following October, for another round of eighty-plus games and seven months of bliss.
The lockout came within days of taking every minute of that away this year. Thankfully, fans will get their hockey Jones, 50 games or so.
But Klein sees only downside:
“Kraft Foods walked away from a lucrative N.H.L. sponsorship in Canada.” Sounds like a smart decision. And now Kraft can walk right back in. It would be stupid not to.
“Molson Coors is seeking reparations for lost business.” Um, yeah. Wouldn’t you? P.S. Wanna bet Molson puts its “lingering anger” aside to sell beer in hockey arenas starting round about January 19?
“A Facebook page started by an angry Los Angeles fan calling for a 10-game boycott on N.H.L. tickets and merchandise…generated more than 21,000 likes.” Who contributed that meaningless evidence, Stuart Elliott ??!!??
There will be more junk like this over the next few days (How Much Was The NHL Brand Damaged? Can The NHL Brand Survive? blah blah blah). Ignore it all.
Instead, read the comments section on ESPN.com’s hockey articles. It hits the magic 5000+ number every time. Die-hard fans, all.
Instead, look at the historical attendance data. Up 2% last year, 3% above two years ago. Not bad for an industry at 95% sell-thru, during a shite economy.
Ironically, watch the Times’s Klein skate right past his own mention of this significant data point: “The N.H.L. generated a league-record $3.3 billion in revenue last season…”
In short, if any “fan” wants to stay away this season, he or she won’t be missed.
That the NHL brand will survive a near-suicide shows just how strong it is.
Finally, Klein includes the requisite marketing “guru” in his piece: “From the research I saw and what I heard anecdotally, a lot of fans and sponsors may not re-engage this season.” What research? Anecdotes? A “lot of” fans? "May" not? Really? How many? Really?!?
This asshat continues: “The league is going to have to slowly win back their [the fans] hearts and minds.”