Pro hockey returns, but will the fans?
Jan 10, 2013 | 11839 views | 0 0 comments | 513 513 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Following the 113-day and16-hour collective bargaining standoff, National Hockey League players are returning to their respective teams, some whom were in the middle of international league play.

The fight originated over the league’s proposed 8 percent cut to the player’s hockey related revenue (HRR) from 57 to 49 percent, ultimately saving only 1 percent in the agreement, leaving them with a 50 percent share.

In the end, the player’s union and league reached a 10-year agreement, dropped the league salary cap from $70.2 million to $64.3 million and left room for an estimated 50-game season. That is if the owners sign the deal this week.

It is understood that the NHL is a big, multi-billion dollar business. It racks up huge annual revenue, a reported $3.3 billion last year alone. Taking that into consideration, how many more times will the fans put up with the unrelenting disagreement between the league and its players?

Although hockey players make considerably less than, say, a MLB or NBA athlete, and their minimum salary was around $525,000 last season, players are still comfotably above Congress' newly devised middle class.

Fans know that pro – and some college - sports make a lot of money. That is just a fact. But when the very reason behind how the money is generated, ultimately fans buying over-priced tickets to sit in nose-bleed seats and parents buying their kids $300 jerseys and overpriced merchandise, the question now becomes, how much more will the hockey fan up with before they call for their own lockout?

While it is unlikely that day will ever come, professional sports leagues and their fans may inevitably draw farther and father apart. The veil, which once covered the big business side of professional sports, is becoming more and more transparent.

The league must use this as a lesson, if not for the basis for a framework to rebuild fan loyalty, but to somehow reconnect the sport with the people who matter the most.

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