What the Bad Economy Means for the NHL

On the same day that the NFL announced it was cutting ten percent of its headquarters staff, the NHL Board of Governors listened to a pair of economists brief them on the supposedly dismal state of the global economy and how it might impact the NHL. ↵

↵Here's NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: ↵

↵
↵⇥"We had about six-and-a-half hours of meetings and we've had a very candid and far-reaching discussion about the economy, both in general and as it applies to NHL hockey," Bettman said. "The sense is that we are doing OK this season, but there is a great deal of uncertainty about the future, particularly next season." ↵⇥

↵⇥"Probably a good indication for us will be how playoff ticket sales go. But while there is concern, there is also hopeful optimism." ↵⇥

↵
↵I'm thinking that "hopeful optimism," is something of the whistling through the graveyard variety. I know others have written it before, but it bears repeating: as a professional sports league that relies more heavily on the gate than any other, the NHL is particularly vulnerable to a sharp economic downturn that could strip its fans of discretionary income. ↵

↵One thing is for sure: with ticket revenue streams in peril, there's absolutely no way the league will do anything to curb fighting. With ticket sales under threat, there's simply no way that the league would ever make a change that might irritate its most hard core fans. If anything, I'd bet that an extended recession might very well lead the NHL to look the other way and allow fighting to make a serious comeback. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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