|English: NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman in 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
They have to get all those players back... Will they succeed? I'm not sure everyone will return. There has to be concern that injuries may take control and there is no room to develop talent and anything that makes a team a team. It's basically the ultimate scramble tournament format. Who can get started fastest and play the best the quickest. That's the test.
What does the NHL need to do to get the fans back?
Barry Melrose talks about how the fans always come back after a work stoppage, but I am hoping that they do come back... next season. I think the fans should sit back and watch what the teams and the league does to try to earn our support back. Here's a list of things that should be done:
1. You know NHL Center Ice? Yup. Free for the season, playoffs, and ALL of preseason next year. If they do anything for the offseason, that's free too.
2. NHL Network - Free view for the same period of time NHL Center Ice is free (if possible... this might be more on the cable providers than NHL Network itself).
3. The Players become available more than ever before. ENDLESS autograph signings, school visits, community outreach programs, volunteer sightings.
4. Promotion nights fall on EVERY GAME IN THE SEASON. Teacher in the metro area? Show us your ID and get $5 tickets! Military? FREE tickets to you and $5 tickets for one friend or nonmilitary family member with the display of a Military ID. Civil Servant Night (see Teacher Night). Got a hockey team of 12 year olds or younger? Call ahead for seating and your entire team gets $1 tickets (Coach goes free) when they show up wearing their jerseys!
5. Radio promotions - Give away ticket packs to the local radio stations
6. The average ticket prices for NHL games (per Hooked on Hockey Magazine) for the 2011-12 season ranged between just under $30 (Dallas) to just over $123 (Toronto). Well.... Dallas residents can look forward to $15 tickets. I can see a Detroit game in Detroit for $25 (regularly $53.28). Toronto residents still overpay at $61.50 per ticket but still... Season tickets would be restructured to accommodate for the loss of games either by making this season tickets cost less than 50% of normal cost or discounting next year's season tickets by, say, 40% (I don't know.... either way it should be SIGNIFICANTLY discounted).
You cannot change existing TV contracts so unfortunately there is no free TV showings outside of what's mentioned but if it was possible, I'd do it.
I'd love to say Gary Bettman resigns but the smug so and so survives yet again to pull another work stoppage in 8 years. You can market Sidney Crosby all you want but Gary Bettman is the face of the NHL and NO ONE outside of the ownership likes him. What a better image saver than to offer Bettman early retirement? The owners will never fire him, but surely Bettman could take the golden parachute and have roses pave his way back to obscurity if the League really cared about fan opinion (but they don't).
In any case, we'll see how things pan out but... It's now or never for Columbus' Stanley Cup hopes. :D