As a Canadian, the absence of hockey is devastating to say the least. Even if yourself are not a hockey fan, it is guaranteed that you can name several people on campus who are. It is common to show up to the local Fathers and Sons and find it full of rowdy hockey fans not only enjoying Canada’s national pastime, but enjoying the beverage that comes hand in hand with it: beer. The fans are still devastated by the lockout, but this article is not for them. Rather, it is for the people whose livelihood and well-being depend on the game.
For anyone familiar with downtown Montreal and who happened to have been there pre or post game, they are familiar with the electric excitement a hockey game brings to the location, which is enjoyable to even those who detest hockey. But where do those fans go to either celebrate a win, drink away a loss or simply fill their bellies? Peel Street of course ! Indeed any night before, during, after or even for away games, business is booming. The Montreal Gazette writes, “The pub (McLean’s Pub) normally serves about 300 hamburgers in the bustle before a Canadiens' game.” A large number of the businesses in downtown Montreal receive about a 20 percent increase in business during the hockey season. For pubs and businesses that are new and just starting out, that could be the difference between staying open and having to close down. The restaurants are taking steps to ensure profits by either cutting shifts of current employees or just not hiring new staff that they would usually bring on for the season. Not only will the restaurants suffer but so will the hotels, as there will be less fans coming into the city to see games and less people in the city means less people will be using the public transportation and taxi services. While the lockout has managed to allow fans to keep some money in their pockets, needless to say it will have a negative impact on the economic health of Montreal and many other major canadian cities.
As the remaining of the NHL season threatens to be cancelled, several cities become at risk of an economic loss. For example, this will be the first year Detroit will be the city holding a Winter Classic. For those of you who do not know, the Winter Classic is a regular season game, that takes place in an outdoor stadium between two teams annually on January 1st. This game would have been between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs, two of the NHL’s biggest earners. The announcement of a Winter Classic between two of the oldest and most celebrated teams in the NHL generated a huge amount of interest, with the Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbour selling out very quickly. CBC has claimed that the city of Detroit is at risk of losing $60 million in revenue and the economic situation of Detroit could really use a boost like the Winter Classic. According to economywatch.com the economy of Detroit is in a very tough position as it has been in an economic slump for some time. Because of this slump, Detroit has had to make several cuts to stay on budget, such as closing schools, which has caused a number of working class people to move out of Detroit and somewhere with better opportunities. The additional $60 million in revenue could go a long way to being reinvested into the city of Detroit, not to mention allow many people to be employed during the festivities of the Winter Classic.
Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbour
In the end, the continuous bickering between the players and the owners over millions of dollars is just part of their own selfish agenda. They do not appear to be taking into account the economic problems they may be causing or the change in lifestyle they are causing to the workers who rely on the NHL as their primary source of income. The true irony here lies in the fact that neither the players nor the owners will be making any sort of money this year and that their actions may cause some financial setbacks. While the big market teams like the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and numerous others have a strong loyal fan following, teams added in recent expansions of the NHL and in new markets like the Stanley cup winners, the Los Angeles Kings, will lose new fans who would be deterred by the lockout. These teams would struggle to fill already sparsely filled arenas and also put a dent in their already low merchandise sales. This will ruin the whole reason the lockout is taking place, profits. This in itself is a paradox as well, since the owners and players are fighting over how to divide hockey related revenue, while every second that the lockout continues threatens all that hockey related revenue potential.
The sad thing is there appears to be no foreseeable end to the lockout. For the University of Ottawa's students, that will mean no student hockey deals this year, no drinking beers while watching Alfredsson and the Senators settle old scores with teams such as Boston and no playful rivalries between friends as their favorite teams take each other on. In the meantime, us Canadians will have to suffer without our favorite past time.