Gary Bettman spoke at MIT's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference on Friday morning, and while many of his points regarding the improvement of the league since the NHL Lockout in 2004-05 are valid, this one seems to have missed the mark a bit:
"Our fans were not only tolerant and patient, but were extremely supportive."
Let's look back in time thanks to the archives over at HF Boards, which should give us a pretty solid idea of fan sentiment at the time. A list of thread titles:
- Bettman and his owners are greedy pigs: They already WON
- Was that a "Bettman sucks" chant I just heard in Carolina?
- Time For Bettman To Go
- Fire Gary Bettman. Make Gretzky The Commish
- Bettman must be fired
- Will you support the NHL?
Again, just a sampling, but to say that fans were "tolerant" and "patient" and "supportive" during the lockout is just, well ... revisionist history. Some may have taken the league's side during the debate, agreeing that the NHL absolutely needed a salary cap to stay viable, but "tolerant" and "patient" over a lost season? I can't think of one person who was either tolerant or patient that season. My favorite AHL team won the Calder Cup that year, so I had plenty of good hockey to watch, but that doesn't mean I was patient with the NHL's drawn out work stoppage.
Now, post-lockout is a different story. As Bettman cited Friday morning, attendance has gone way up since 2005, and that's a sign that most who answered "No" in that final HF Boards thread linked above were probably lying. But just because we're addicted to the game of hockey doesn't mean we were tolerant and patient with the NHL Lockout, Gary.