Skip to content

It’s simple: Fans will be back if the game deserves it

Jan 8, 2013, 2:47 PM EDT

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin AP

We got an email the other day asking us to write about NHL Center Ice and how the league should give it away free as an inducement to win fans back.

It wasn’t the first time we’d heard that suggested. Fans have other ideas, too. Like cheaper tickets and concessions.

And we’re fully on board with all of it. It would be a nice gesture. Who doesn’t like free or, at the very least, cheaper?

But so far as winning fans back – if fans are actually considering leaving – none of those things are nearly as important as this:

The game.

If the NHL wants to help fans forgive and forget, making the product better is what will do it. That’s what worked in 2005 when the league cut down on obstruction; it wasn’t dollar hot dogs or 50 percent off jerseys.

Luck will be a factor, too. If this year’s playoffs are compelling, the lockout will be a distant memory. If not, the league’s previous momentum won’t be so easy to regain.

A better Stanley Cup finals would go a long way for the NHL. Let’s face it, Kings-Devils was an absolute snoozer compared to Bruins-Canucks the year before.

Not that the Kings (or their fans) care, but not a single one of their series was a classic. Los Angeles only lost four games in the entire postseason. Where’s the adversity in that? Remember that Boston had to win three Game 7’s in 2011, including one against its biggest rival, Montreal. And Vancouver nearly blew a 3-0 lead in the first round against Chicago, the team that had eliminated the Canucks the previous two seasons.

The NBA got lucky last year after its lockout when Miami won it all. Love him or hate him, LeBron James is a compelling athlete and, after the Big Three were assembled, the Heat were a compelling team to follow. Having Kevin Durant in the finals was a bonus.

Baseball’s home-run chase in 1998 helped bring fans back to the ballparks after the 1994 World Series was canceled. Sure, it turned out to be steroid-fueled, but it was still great to watch.

In the long-run, it’s the game that matters. All the other stuff is just temporary.

Though free Center Ice would be nice.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Sabres owner Pegula makes bid for NFL’s Bills

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT

    Terry Pegula AP

    Now battling Bon Jovi and Donald Trump!

  2. Gettin’ paid: Gardiner inks five-year, $20.25M extension with Leafs

    Jul 29, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT

    gettygardiner Getty Images

    Pretty nice pay bump for the 24-year-old rearguard.

  3. Habs sign hulking d-man Finley to AHL deal

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT

    New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens Getty Images

    6-foot-8, 250-pounder was a first-round pick in 2005.

  4. Report: Trottier to join Sabres’ coaching staff

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT

    BryanTrottier Getty Images

    Hall of Famer will work as an assistant under Ted Nolan.

  5. Blues sign former eighth overall pick Mueller

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:17 PM EDT

    Florida Panthers v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

    Low-risk signing, with good potential upside.

  6. Now the Blues’ starting goalie, Elliott is working extra hard this summer

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    Mike Richards, Brian Elliott AP

    “When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.”

  7. Wild, Fontaine avoid arbitration — two years, $2 million

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT

    Chicago Blackhawks v Minnesota Wild - Game Six Getty Images

    Had 13 goals and eight assists in 2013-14, his rookie season in the NHL.

  8. Abdelkader suspended for first three games of 2015 Worlds for high hit on Sobotka

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

    Justin Abdelkader, Reto Berra AP

    IIHF Disciplinary Board levies punishment for “very forceful check.”

  9. Trotz plans to let Johansson, Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky compete for time at center

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:04 AM EDT

    BarryTrotz Getty Images

    New Caps coach wants “people who are really good at distributing the puck and making things happen from the middle of the ice.”

  10. Panthers avoid arbitration with Hayes, who gets one-year deal

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT

    Totonto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers Getty Images

    Had 11 goals and seven assists in 53 games last season.

  11. Jets, Frolik agree on one-year deal worth $3.3 million

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:35 AM EDT

    Winnipeg Jets v San Jose Sharks Getty Images

    Can become an unrestricted free agent next summer now.

  12. Feaster: Just a matter of time until Tortorella returns

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Calgary Flames v Vancouver Canucks Getty Images

    They won the Stanley Cup together in Tampa Bay.

  13. Analytics just piece of puzzle to Leafs’ Dubas

    Jul 28, 2014, 10:16 PM EDT

    Dubas

    He was recently hired by the team to serve as an assistant general manager.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches