The NHL lockout was painful for anyone who loves hockey and was even more painful for any business owners like myself. All of us that read blogs, forums and talk-backs during the lockout saw that the large majority of fans were frustrated and said they wouldn't watch hockey anymore. So which fans really backed up what they said?
According to a report by SportsBusiness Journal, only the Colorado Avalanche had lower local TV ratings than in 2011-12 and I think we all know why, they only won 16 games. The TV Ratings on NBC were up 18% compared to last year and were the highest for the NHL in almost 20 years. As far as we're concerned, our jersey sales are well up compared to last year. Part of that is because of natural growth of our business but the lockout certainly didn't have any negative effect.
One argument for this is that because of the shorter season, more teams were competitive than in previous years and more viewers were interested. It's a valid argument for some of those statistics but doesn't explain why the TV ratings for a team like the New York Rangers who finished first last year and had a disappointing season this year are up.
The other part that is intriguing to me is how much the NHL players were united during the lockout and fought together for some things that seemed irrelevant. They were a very united group, as much if not more than in the NBA and NFL in the past two years. However, now that they're back to playing again, they seem to have lost respect for each other and we've seen just as many hits to the head as in previous years. Just my two cents...
So with all that said, does anyone feel different than they did when they were watching the first round of the NHL Playoffs in 2012 about 11 months ago? Other than it's a little warmer outside and there's more Canadian teams in the Playoffs, it's the same hockey we love, there's just as many people in the stands and just as many (if not more) viewers on TV. As angry as we were at the owners and players back in December, it's all back to normal.