Stalled NBA Lockout Negotiations Could Restore Stability in NHL for 2011-12 Hockey Season
NBA lockout: The league fined Michael Jordan 100,000 dollars and ruled J.R. Smith and other players playing abroad ineligible for the 2011-12 season, proving the hopelessness of NBA lockout negotiations. The NHL is ready for a new season while the NBA’s labor dispute seems as hopeless as ever. What does it all mean for hockey?
Though both sides of the NBA’s labor dispute have agreed to keep the details of their negotiations private, the NBA broadcasts a vague play-by-play on their website’s “NBA Lockout Timeline”. This week was perhaps the most hostile since the lockout began. The face of the NBA and arguably the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, was fined for comments regarding revenue sharing and the “broken” NBA system. Free agent JR Smith signed a one year deal to play basketball overseas and was ruled ineligible if there is an NBA season this year by the league. Can you blame him, and teammate Ty Lawson, for wanting out of Denver?
As the labor situation grows desperate, the 2011-12 NHL season draws near. Hockey fans know all too well the detrimental effects of a lost season, and hockey is still struggling to gain back the trust of casual fans lost after 2004-05′s season that never was. If the only competition for the frozen hearts of winter sports fans everywhere cancels its season, what will it mean for the NHL?
Obviously and NBA lockout will boost ratings, revenues, and attendance to add stability during tenuous economic times. Rumors of the New Jersey Devils’ bankruptcy surfaced in the New York Post this week. Hockey could use a few more fans, and if the grudge those fans hold against the NBA is anything like it was against the NHL, the sport will continue to recover.
Ratings for last season’s playoffs were the highest ever as accessibility is at an all-time high. Events like the All-Star game, the Winter Classic, and the Heritage Classic attract record audiences. With the NBA out of the way, the NHL can build off last year’s success.
National coverage to fill the void left by basketball would mean seeing the NHL on ESPN more frequently than the occasional phenomenal play. Imagine a world where ESPN analysts actually have to know what they’re talking about in regards to hockey. Football would dominate the weekend, but what is the casual sports fan to do on a weeknight? Watch hockey, that’s what.
Last year proved that the NHL is more than just star power, as the league was forced to stop shoving Caps-Penguins down our throats. The NBA pushed Dirk Nowitzki Vs The Heatles, but the NHL found a more cohesive image. Alexander Ovechkin underperformed all year and Sidney Crosby missed most of the season with a concussion. New stars emerged, like NHL 12 cover boy Steven Stamkos and Stanley Cup hero Tim Thomas. The heavily favored Vancouver Canucks lost in seven games to a scrappy Boston team in one of the most exciting Stanley Cups ever.
If the casual fan switches over from basketball, the fast-paced hockey of the new NHL could keep those fans forever.
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