Fans plan response for end of lockout
One group to boycott hockey one game for each game missed.
Sitting in a hockey locker room, Steve Chase became the latest diehard fan fed up with the NHL lockout.
Living in Los Angeles, Chase believed the league had squandered all the goodwill built in the area after the Kings won the Stanley Cup. So he took a pledge: “We’re not coming back.”
Not for good. Just not after the lockout is settled, not for a while.
Chase started the grass roots “Just Drop It” campaign that encourages fans to boycott one NHL game for every game canceled after Dec. 21st. No tickets, no TV, no merchandise — not a minute or a penny spent on the league, punishment for what he believed are continued abuses of loyalty on their fan base.
He made a video and started a Facebook page, urging fans to click the “like” button and join the cause. More than 11,000 angry fans have joined since the weekend.
The days of letter writing and 30-second phone calls to sports radio stations have ballooned to steady streams of hashtags, Facebook posts and homemade videos from fans who just want to come in from the cold of this labor battle and watch their slapshots and saves. They are exasperated over a work stoppage with no end in sight and little regard for the fans.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby understood why fans are upset over the third lockout in Commissioner Gary Bettman’s 20-year tenure.
“I don’t blame anyone for being frustrated with this process,” Crosby said.
But for all the angry tweets, texts, threats and organized campaigns, fans will still pick up the remote and print out tickets as soon as the strife ends.
They always do. In every sport. Remember 1994? After the World Series was wiped out, baseball loyalists vowed never to return to the old ball game. Fueled by super-sized sluggers and retro ballparks, attendance topped 60 million in 1996 and soared to 79,503,175 in 2007.
The NHL, of course, can’t match those numbers. But the story arc is still the same. The NHL drew 20,854,169 fans when the sport returned in 2005-06 — 497,970 more than the total in 2003-04, the season before the lockout.
The NHL saw an attendance uptick each of the next three seasons and totaled a record 21,468,121 fans in 2011-12.All the bluster of a boycott is easier tweeted than done. Fans can’t quit Sid the Kid, Ovi or The Doaner.
On opening night in January 2013 or October or whenever, the teams will be back ready for the first faceoff. So will the fans. At least some of them.