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Poll: Does fan opinion matter when it comes to ending the NHL’s labor dispute?

Aug 30, 2012, 10:59 AM EDT

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Whichever side is “right” in the NHL’s labor dispute, we know this much is true – unlike the lead-up to the 2004-05 lockout that canceled an entire season, the large majority of fans are on the players’ side of the dispute.

In a recent PHT poll, 82 percent of respondents said they support the NHLPA versus the owners.

The Globe and Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin suggested public opinion was the reason the league presented its latest proposal to the players.

“[NHL commissioner Gary] Bettman and his bosses have discovered in the last two weeks that they’ve overplayed their hand with the public,” wrote Dowbiggin.

Of course, others have argued the NHL’s new proposal doesn’t mark any progression in the negotiations whatsoever.

Meanwhile, fans have been active online, forming anti-lockout pages on Facebook and starting Twitter feeds like @StopTheLock2012.

One fan is even pushing a “fan strike” if there’s no agreement by Sept. 15 when the current CBA expires.

All are admirable pursuits, but can fans really do anything to advance negotiations? Do the owners and players even care what the paying customer thinks, or do they just assume the fans will come back whenever the puck drops?

Bettman has said the NHL recovered from the last lockout “because we have the world’s greatest fans.”

Wrote Dowbiggin in another column, “The commish meant this as a compliment, of course. An honest reading of this beauty is more like: ‘If you fans weren’t such doormats, I might be worried.’”

NHLPA chief Donald Fehr sure seems to think public opinion is worth fighting for. Why else would the players keep hammering the “we’re not the ones talking lockout, that’s the owners” angle when speaking to the media? That may be true, but there’s no doubt the repetition is part of a planned PR strategy. One, we should add, that’s been quite successful so far.

OK, so let’s get to the poll question.

  1. greej1938l - Aug 30, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Absolutely not, if our opinion mattered fully there’d be zero talk of a lockout.

  2. bcsteele - Aug 30, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Not sure about you other fans, but I’m on the players side and I think Bettman could care less about the “world’s greatest fans.”

    The only reason he gets away with this stuff is because we are the greatest fans, supporting the greatest sport, and he knows we’d be back in the event of a lock out. I just hope one day his job is forfeit for the crap he puts my sport through.

    Get a fair deal done NOW that supports the FAN’S best interest and lets get started on time.

  3. sjsharks66 - Aug 30, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    Hell no! They don’t give a rats ass about us fans. It’s a damn shame to.
    That’s ok though, I don’t go to games to watch the owners anyways.

  4. capsfan19 - Aug 30, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    They should put bettman in goalie pads and have chara, weber, ovi take slap shots at him.
    He would defecate all over the place.

    • bcsteele - Aug 30, 2012 at 11:37 AM

      Can we leave the pads off?

  5. sabatimus - Aug 30, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    Wasn’t it Fehr who said that, if no CBA was ratified once Sept 15 rolls around, that the league can simply use the previous CBA until a new one gets ratified? If this is true (coming from Fehr, I’m inclined to think it is), why all the lockout talks? Is this fan misunderstanding? Bettman and owner misunderstanding or willfulness? I really want to know. Because if a lockout is NOT impending, I need not worry about it. But if it IS impending I’m pissed.

    • Jason Brough - Aug 30, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      For the answer to your question, read this:

      • sabatimus - Aug 30, 2012 at 12:05 PM

        Thank you. Looks like the operative phrase is “as long as both sides are willing to keep negotiating”.

      • sabatimus - Aug 30, 2012 at 12:12 PM

        Though I do think that not having a season AT ALL would be a good deal more damaging monetarily and to the NHL as a product than opting to play with the current CBA–even if it does wind up being a power struggle between the owners and the PA. It’s ALREADY a power struggle, and it always is come new CBA-time.

        So which would result in less money for the owners? A new CBA that the owners really don’t want, or canceling a whole season? This is all just very absurd.

  6. furkmyster - Aug 30, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    I have already cancelled Centre Ice, and I will not be buying any NHL merchandise or Winnipeg Jets tickets anytime soon. If there is no lockout and we get a full 82 game schedule, that will change, if not, and they expect me to crawl back them and give them my actual money, it isn’t going to happen. I dropped baseball in 1994 and have never returned, the same consequences will be there for hockey if they are stupid enough.

    • tatdue - Aug 30, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      Unfortunately since you are a Winnipeg fan not buying tickets is not a threat since their season is sold out and people are paying money just to be on a waiting list….good thought though.

      • furkmyster - Aug 30, 2012 at 1:50 PM

        Nope, I may live in Manitoba, but the Jets aren’t my primary team. My team came to town twice and I went the second game and paid $180 for my ticket. If more fans were of this opinion, there would be no strike or lockout. The NHL is a completely gate driven league, it doesn’t compare to the NFL, NBA or MLB in any significant way. All those leagues have massive national TV deals in the US.

        No matter what the rhetoric each side starts to use, until meaningful revenue sharing or team contraction begins, the NHL is never going to have labour peace.

  7. zevolve - Aug 30, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    There actually is a way that fans can have an impact, which has been brought to my attention but I’m not the most savvy at employing it. While we will all return to watching hockey, even if they lockout, we can actively boycott their corporate sponsors. If you go to, they list their major sponsors, and if the fans decide to boycott those companies, this could have an impact on the NHL.

    • sabatimus - Aug 30, 2012 at 12:13 PM

      I do that anyway 😀

  8. chrisvegas - Aug 30, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    The only time fans opinion matters is when we don’t spend our money on their product. I’ve already canceled center ice. I’ll probably get basketball instead this year now that my Sixers are much improved. Hockey is my number one sport, but i’m going to voice my opinion by not going to any games this year and not getting the NHL ticket.

  9. avscanes - Aug 30, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    bettman doesn’t care about the fans. this would be his third lockout. enough said.

  10. redwingsfan999 - Aug 30, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Well it should cuz the NHL has been getting a bigger fan base over the past few years and if theres a lockout they will lose a lot of fans

  11. okiesteeler - Aug 30, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    The league and players need to worry about another lockout. The fans will return, but the TV contracts are another matter. After the 04-05 lockout the NHL came back on the Outdoor Life Network. The TV revenue is huge to all sports leagues and this is something both parties need to be concerned about. I don’t want to have a lockout and when the lockout ends, I can’t watch the games because they are on some obscure network.

  12. lostpuppysyndrome - Aug 30, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Why does supporting the owners and players have to be an either/or thing? I categorically support both of them, though Bettman does tend to make things more difficult (the whole “greatest fans in the world” is a backhanded compliment at best). You need both owners and players to make the NHL successful.

    Honestly, for once I’d like to see what some of the individual owners or GMs have to say about the situation, even if it’s anonymous. I’ve heard enough from the players but it’s only been one side of the negotiations. It’s easy to spin things your way when the other side isn’t saying much. It’s not the end of the world if there’s a lockout, and I’ll be watching again cheering for my teams when they hit the ice again.

  13. savior72 - Aug 30, 2012 at 3:06 PM


  14. bmosh99 - Aug 30, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    I’m more curious if people will be coming back if there is a long lockout.

  15. sportmentary - Aug 30, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    Fans? Who are they? That’s what the NHL & NHLPA think. We only pay their bills. I beleive the NHL has already said it would make it through a lockout. They believe fans will return. That shows me that fans don;t enter the equation.

  16. sportmentary - Aug 30, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    Fans? Who are they? That’s what the NHL & NHLPA think. We only pay their bills. I beleive the NHL has already said it would make it through a lockout. They believe fans will return. That shows me that fans don;t enter the equation.

  17. manchestermiracle - Aug 30, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    furkmyster and zevolve have the right idea. If, as a fan of the NHL, you really want your opinion to make a difference then, like with any business (and let’s not forget that this is certainly an entertainment business), you have to vote with your wallet. Business people don’t understand any other kind of poll.

  18. majesticles - Aug 31, 2012 at 2:24 AM

    The only way to make an impact is to attack what they cherish most… Money.
    Boycott Geico, Bridgestone, NBC.
    Write regional sponsors and tell them they won’t get any of your business so long as they continue to sponsor the NHL.
    If you want the NHL to listen to you, piss in their revenue stream.

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