History suggests fans will come back if there’s a lockout

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On Thursday, we asked you if you thought public opinion mattered when it came to the ongoing CBA negotiations. A staggering 89% of you don’t think it does and some of the evidence might support your assertion.

As Sportsnet recently pointed out, attendance actually went up following the previous two NHL lockouts. The gains were relatively modest in the lockout-shortened 1994-95 campaign, but after losing the entire 2004-05 season, the NHL enjoyed a 2.4% increase in attendance in 2005-06.

According to the Toronto Star, ticket revenues totaled $1.2 billion in 2010-11, which should highlight just how important ticket sales are to the NHL’s success.

Of course, it’s hard to say if fans will respond to a 2012-13 lockout the same way. As Sportsnet notes, the rule changes following the loss of the 2004-05 season led to an increase in scoring and the post-lockout era marked the start of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin’s NHL careers. Both players enjoyed explosive rookie seasons and quickly became household names.

Pittsburgh in particular saw a big boost after the lockout and enjoyed a league-leading 33.06% increase in attendance compared to 2003-04.

So the question now is if the NHL will enjoy a similar bounce back if there’s another lockout or if this time things will be different. Hopefully, that’s one question we’ll never find out the answer to because hopefully there won’t be a lockout.