There are number of reports that claim that NHL fans are growing increasingly frustrated with the NHL lockout. Some fans have threatened that they will not return as fans of the NHL when they decide to play hockey. Note to NHL fans, the NHL &NHLPA couldn't care less that you are angry. They don't care.
If the NHL & the NHLPA cared that their fans are frustrated, they would do everything they could to ink a deal. They would compromise and ink a deal. They would consider binding arbitration. They would refrain from badmouthing each other in public. They would be committed to inking a deal.
The sad thing is that the NHL & the players believe that NHL fans will not boycott the league when it returns. They believe that NHL fans will follow the league no matter how dire the current state of the lockout looks like. There is a term that describes the type of fan that the NHL believes follows their league. They are called Sheeple. Sheeple (Sheep People) will blindly follow their master.
While the NHL & NHLPA are not masters of their fans the term might accurately describe the common NHL fan. Do I really believe that NHL fans will boycott the league? I do believe that some will. The NHL will permanently lose some fans but the majority of fans will not be lost permanently. Some fans will boycott for a period of time.
It might not be fair to refer to NHL fans as Sheeple. NHL fans are passionate about their sport. They love watching hockey. They have no control over this lockout but still suffer from having no NHL hockey to watch. NHL fans have a void and for some there isn't another sport to fill that void.
The NFL does fill my void to some extent. The problem is that the regular season is nearing an end. There are just a few weeks left in the season. The season will be over on February 2013 when a Super Bowl champion is crowned.
That leaves the NBA. For many NHL fans, the NBA isn't a long term option. It might not even be a short term option. I've tried watching some games. What I find myself doing is tuning into a game with a few minutes left, when the action rally heats up.
I don't do that with hockey. Sure there are NHL games that are blowouts and the television is turned off but I watch most games from start to finish. The drama of an NHL game is more intense than an NBA game. Every goal matters and can decide the outcome of the game.
I believe that the NHL knows that even though their fans are angry and frustrated they will return. The NHL knows that the reason that NHL fans are frustrated is because they are going through NHL withdrawal and there isn't another sport that is the fix to that withdrawal. There isn't a credible sport for the NHL junkie to watch.
If this account of the NHL fan is true and the NHL and NHLPA hear bah, bah, bah coming out of the mouths of their fans why would they be concerned that their inability to ink a deal would harm the league? They wouldn't but I think that they are miscalculating the damage.
While the majority of fans probably will return immediately, some fans will not. That will eat into the NHL's revenue and bottom line. When the NHL returns they will have lost hundreds of millions of dollars. They can ill afford to lose any fans. They will need to fill their arenas night in and night out. If all they are hearing is bah, bah, bah and if they think of their fans as Sheeple, they may be greatly underestimating these fans and may be also be underestimating how that will harm the leagues long term viability.