NHL counts on fan capitulation

It’s fair to say the NHL lockout feels like a disaster to many.

It’s fair to say the NHL lockout feels like a disaster to many.

Know for whom it doesn’t, the owners. Some are saving a lot of money just by not playing and all are going to get concessions from the NHLPA that will make them more profitable going forward.

Along with the base negotiations are talks on expanding the playoffs, and the league, is short order, meaning more late spring/early summer drama and income for the teams (owners) involved.

Four more playoff teams means four more rinks that will have added revenues. The fact that two thirds of the teams in the league making the playoff round means an interminable regular season is even less meaningful than it already is means little to the business pros that operate the franchises.

A fairly rapid expansion into Quebec City and Seattle, two cities already working on arenas, could bring in up to half a billion in entry fees for the current owners to share.

It all looks good to almost all those owners – and Bettman needs only eight votes from among the group to keep his job if he wants to – for one basic reason.

The owners are highly confident that the fans – you know, the people whose money they are trying to divide up – will flock back to the rinks, and the souvenir booths and their hockey night couch positions, in very large numbers and spend large numbers of dollars for the privilege.

They believe that what they are doing will not damage their support in any significant way and the money will come rolling in as soon as they roll out whatever rosters they feel like paying wages to.

Never mind that there are still several NHL host buildings to which tickets are almost given away, or that two more teams will further water down a diluted talent pool. They believe, as strongly as American Republicans believe, poor people live too well and rich people live too poorly, that fan pockets are just there for the emptying – that they have a right to depend on the enthusiasm of hockey folks for their enrichment.

They believe, just the way they believe they own fans in their neighbourhoods in total, that all they need to have the right to extract our money is to be present. I wish I could say they are wrong.

•This BCHL month is a critical time for teams looking for playoff spots. For the Smoke Eaters, given the shortened season this year, it is make or break period.

Trail will hit the ice tonight standing fifth in the division and only fourth from bottom in the league, albeit still in contention for post season play. After tonight, the Smokies have six straight games against division foes.

The good thing is the club appears to have the talent to beat anyone in the league. The less good thing is they haven’t always stepped up of late against teams they absolutely should beat.

Fewer than five wins for Trail before they head out for a mainland road trip (seven games, including four at home) could be all she wrote for their playoff hopes. Here’s hoping the club’s players and coaches are ready at game time, every game time, the rest of the way.

Lots of entertainment in the comeback games and overtime wins, but I am sure fans would not mind going home happy, rather than sometimes as relieved as happy, from games at Cominco Arena for the rest of the season.

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