It is not often that an entire sport commits suicide. In the past year, one did. The NHL is over. Yes, there might be a hockey season next year. There will be one person happy about, my former roommate. But no one else in America cares. Funny thing though, no one in the hockey capital of the world, Canada, cares either. If you look at today’s Toronto Star, there is not one headline about the NHL and its possible return. Yahoo! Sports doesn’t list any NHL headlines either. There are headlines for the NBA, NFL, MLB, NASCAR, Cycling, and NCAA Football. But nothing for the NHL. Looking at the NHL page, there is a claim that negotiations will end with a contract this week. But the next headline is Manny Legace claiming that they lost an entire season for nothing. Mr. Legace, you are wrong. You lost an entire season for something. You threw the season away to lose many of the few fans the NHL had.
The NHL was the first professional sports league to lose an entire season to a labor dispute. And they are also the professional sports league that could least afford to do so. Baseball, America’s game, had a tough time recovering from their strike. How can a sport that wasn’t that popular to begin with weather this storm? The answer is simple: It can’t. The NHL is dead. Yes, it might continue. It might even see a surge in attendance this coming year if they have a season. But it’s not coming back. They’re going to try. The owners are even lowering ticket prices. But there’s not a chance in the world that the NHL is going to overcome this strike. People can’t name NHL players or even NHL teams. The only player people can name is Mario Lemieux.
Let this be a lesson to professional sports. If you can’t sort out your financial differences and play the sport you love, you might just kill the very thing that supports you: the dollars of the fans. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go see who’s pitching in the All-Star game.