The NHL and the players’ union have just a few hours left to work out a new collective bargaining agreement. Failure to do so will most certainly lead to a lockout of the players by the NHL. The impact of this impending lockout will be like an earthquake with its epicenter in Columbus. The magnitude of the earthquake will be directly proportional to the length of the lockout. The longer the lockout, the higher the magnitude of the earthquake and the greater the damage it does to the local economy of each NHL city. Can businesses that are located in Columbus’ Arena District survive without hockey? Will those individuals employed directly or indirectly by hockey related businesses still have a job?Smaller market teams such as the Columbus Blue Jackets that have been losing millions of dollars each year of operation need an overall healthy NHL in order for it to flourish. The Jackets are still in their infancy and it takes a while to develop a consistent and large following. They cannot afford to have stoppage and interruptions in the flow of the seasons as it only detracts from an already weathered and weary fan base. Let’s not take away from the stoic hardcore fans that will always follow the Jackets no matter what! But that is not enough for a franchise to reach the higher plateaus of operational success.
As the NHL Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players Association get swirled up in a battle of the gluttons, the fans shall suffer along with small market teams. Businesses around the arena that count on hockey traffic to remain going concerns will be mere memories. Even individuals employed in operational support positions with each franchise could be sent packing.
And, an otherwise promising NHL hockey market in the way of “Columbus, U.S.A.”, will pay a hefty price. Columbus is much like a young, up and coming boxer with a promising future. But this boxer keeps taking punishing blows without being able to answer back and crashes to the canvas over and over; only to get back up for more pummeling and punishment. Unless the Hockey Buddha intervenes, one of these days this brave boxer may not get up. And, the fight will be over. Columbus will be the loser but not because of a lack of effort. It just didn’t have Angelo Dundee in its corner. And, it didn’t have Don King on its side either. Nor did it have anybody that is a “who’s who” in the boxing world. That’s how it feels like to be a Columbus Blue Jackets fan and a long-time resident of the city. Nobody outside of the Columbus market seems to give a darn about our plight. It feels like us against the world, doesn’t it?
Thanks to the impending NHL lockout and the selfish interests of a few, a major earthquake will shake the very foundations of the NHL world. And, Columbus will be the epicenter. Hang on to your puck and stick. This could be serious! Please tell me that this is just a bad dream and that we will have hockey camp and pre-season games in a matter of days!