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What does the NHL owe the fans?

Does the NHL owe their fans for hockey lost? (Photo supplied)
Does the NHL owe their fans for hockey lost? (Photo supplied)

Where were you when you heard the news?

I had just rolled over in bed to check the time on my phone. Then I saw the notification from CBC News.

“NHL, players’ union reach tentative deal to end lockout.” I tried my best to contain my excitement so I did not wake my girlfriend.

I quickly opened Twitter on my phone. I couldn’t wait to see all the excitement that followed from rabid fans and sports journalists who now had something to do. But what did I find?

“The NHL owes the fans! I better get [NHL] Center Ice for free” and “I’m not gonna watch the NHL this year…what are they going to do for the fans? Nothing.”

It had been less than six hours since Gary Bettman and Don Fehr announced that the lockout would soon be over and that is what greeted me. I expected parades and a national holiday, but instead I got bitter people still complaining.

An article published in The Ottawa Sun, less than 36 hours after the news broke, says “In a fair world the NHL would slash ticket prices by 50% for the rest of the reason. It would remove all surcharges…Of course, the NHL will do none of that, and when fans still return, then the NHL will have learned only one lesson.”

Keep in mind: these people on Twitter and this author would have sold their soul to the devil two weeks earlier to have the NHL back.

But it got me thinking. I missed out on half a season of quality NHL hockey. I missed half a season of watching my Montreal Canadians lose. I missed another Sidney Crosby concussion because of this lockout.

For all of these missed moments, what does the NHL owe me?

Do they owe me NHL Center Ice? Do they owe me free stuff? Do they owe me tickets and a flight to go watch my favourite team on their home ice?


The National Hockey League owes me hockey. It owes everyone hockey. We have the luxury of watching hockey for a 48-game regular season and then we get to watch hockey deep into the summer months during the playoffs. At that point, every other person will be complaining that the NHL playoffs are too long and it should have ended months ago.

To be honest, I never missed the NHL. I resigned myself to the idea that if the league missed one game, it would miss the entire year. However, there has always been hockey. You could have gone see the Halifax Mooseheads play, or you could have gone to a rink and watched university hockey. There have been AHL games on TV.

Hockey never left. The NHL is simply another spoke in the wheel.

I’m not saying the NHL isn’t a big part of hockey. It is where the greatest players in the world go to compete for the game’s top prize.

The NHL owes use the same thing that the Continental Hockey League owes us, the same thing that the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League owes us, the same thing your local pee wee team owes us. Hockey.

I for one am glad to get what I am owed.

Justin Hartling
Justin Hartling
Justin was an Online Editor for Volume 146 of the Gazette.

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