Well another year, another sport, another work stoppage.
This time it is the Gary Bettman led NHL, just 8 years removed from a lockout, which cost hockey the entire season 2004-05 season. Since that lockout, the NHL has made tremendous strides in growing and evolving as a sport. The big market fan bases of the Bruins, Rangers, Penguins, Blackhawks, and Kings have all been rejuvenated. Additionally, the NHL reached record profits of over three billion dollars in the past year. Events like the Winter Classic have captured the attention of the casual fan, and general interest in the sport is at its highest level since the Gretzky era.
Our own Boston Bruins are the perfect example of the progress the league has made just in the last few years. In the 2008 Playoffs, Boston's first postseason appearance since the 2004 lockout, Montreal Canadien fans packed the TD Garden in a riveting first round matchup. Since then, Bruins Nation has been reborn, providing great ratings for NESN and radio broadcast. Fans packed the Garden every game, making the Bruins one of the hottest tickets in town, and carrying them to their first title since 1972, two seasons ago.
Can Bruins Nation and the NHL bounce back from another potential lockout? Will this rising sport piss away all of its momentum (and huge NBC TV deal) while selling out the fans who helped build it? These are questions that will be answered in time. All I know is, with the NBA, college basketball and other winter sports available to the casual sports fan, the NHL is certainly rolling the dice, risking another owner imposed work stoppage if a deal is not reached by Saturday's midnight deadline.
- Joe Passarrelli
Support WBOB Sports