The resolution of the NHL lockout has left mixed feelings among the population. For avid hockey fans, the short season is a disappointment, but for businesses it’s a saviour.
The lockout, which began on Sept. 15, 2012 due to a labour dispute, finally came to an end on Jan. 19.
A total of 510 regular season games were cancelled, making up 41.5 per cent of the season, which in turn put a big strain on many wallets.
“The business is probably losing between $18-20 million a day, and the players are losing between $8-10 million a day,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in an interview with USA Today.
Bettman also said that the National Hockey League office cut 20 per cent of employees, along with a majority of teams who were forced to cut pay and staff as well.
All games on the original 2012-13 calendar up until opening day Jan. 19 were cancelled, including the NHL Winter Classic, and the All-Star Game.
Long time Calgary Flames fan Taylor Wolstenholme lost interest in hockey because of the lockout, and doesn’t plan to support the NHL this season, as are many hockey fans.
“I didn’t buy anything to support the league, and I don’t plan to for a while,” said Wolstenholme.
The Flames are attempting to sway unhappy fans by offering promotions and giveaways on merchandise, but that might not be all it takes.
“I think there’s still bitterness. I don’t blame the people, but to me the proof will be seven, eight, 10, 12 games into the season. If the Flames are winning and are in a playoffs spot and we don’t have sell-outs then I’ll believe that people are boycotting,” said Dean Molberg of Sportsnet 960 The Fan, in an interview with 660 News.
Wolstenholme plans to boycott pubs and other NHL related activity, even though he loves the game.
“The fans lost what this country loves most, watching good hockey,” said Wolstenholme.
“I don’t care who wins this season because they won’t be a real winner to me.”
Not only did the fans and those involved in the negotiations suffer from the lockout, but many small businesses in Canada also took a big hit.
Hudson’s Canadian Tap House, with two locations in Calgary, is relieved with the start up of the NHL season.
Hudson’s marketing director Karli Anderson saw a big decline in business during a time of year that is normally prosperous.
“We definitely noticed it in our revenue,” said Anderson, “Combined with the new 0.05 per cent law coming into effect, having no hockey affected our sales for sure.”
To beat the lockout-blues, Anderson said Hudson’s really tried to focus on the customers and watch expenses to stay up.
Back in the 2011 and 2012 NHL season, Anderson said business was booming.
“Business was very, very busy,” said Anderson, “I would say we were a full house every game for sure.”
And business certainly wasn’t lacking Sunday, Jan. 20 when the Calgary Flames played the San Jose Sharks for their first game of the season.
“I am positive that the return will be amazing for business,” said Anderson. “We expect a huge increase in sales, and it’s been a great start so far.”
“Even though it was a home game for the Flames, business was good,” said Steve Palacios, doorman at the downtown Calgary Hudsons.
“We hope for an even bigger turnout for the Flames away games this season when fans aren’t watching live.”
Palacios is satisfied with the increase in tip-out he noticed as well.
“It’s great for all the staff when we’re busy, the last few months were boring,” said Palacios. “It’s great to see the place alive again.”
To continue boosting sales throughout the short NHL season, Hudson’s will be offering customers half-price wings and Budweiser pints, every Flames game day, all day long.