A Promise to the NHL and NHLPA

Today is September 15, the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA. Tonight, barring an 11th-hour miracle, the league will lock out its players and begin yet another in a seemingly endless cycle of work stoppages.

If that happens, I have a promise to both sides.

The promise is this: I will not spend so much as a dime for the rest of my life on any of the auxiliary streams of revenue the league has.

I’m not turning my back on hockey or even NHL hockey – I’m a fan and always will be. So I’ll keep going to games and buying the sports package on TV so I can watch the teams play. But that’s where it stops.

A huge portion of NHL revenue comes from merchandise and concessions. Jerseys, coffee mugs, hockey cards – when anything with a team logo is sold, the NHL gets a piece of it. The same goes for the pricey beer and nachos sold at arenas.

I’m done with it all.

Granted, I’m not the consumer of those products that I once was, even now. As writing about the Oilers has taken more and more of my time – and eventually transitioned into my full-time job – I’ve been less and less enthused about team merchandise. It’s hard to write objectively about a team while wearing their colours, and I’ve become far less a collector of team-related merchandise than I was even five years ago.

I’ve never stopped completely though, and when at the games I enjoy beer and nachos as much as the next man. But if the lockout, as expected, starts today, those days are over. I’ll Gandhi the games and the vintage Kurri jersey in my closet will be the last thing with an NHL logo on it that I ever buy.

That’s a promise.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • It would be nice if fans did organize some sort of protest that would affect the NHL even for a short period of time.A warning shot to show them we are not “puppets”. I am going to do the same also not buying a ticket for the dream home either

  • Greg

    Found this online petition, and think anyone who really wants to make a statement should sign it. I doubt the NHL or NHLPA will take an online petition very seriously (unless maybe it gets 1M+ signatures), but if those who do actually follow through on the consequences – and I fully intend on it – it will make an impact.

    The NHL gets 50% of its revenues from ticket sales, so while I know I would not stop watching games on TV, I am fully confident I can, and will, boycott any ticket or merchandise purchases for 1 full year should this lockout go past 30 days. If ratings stay roughly the same but single game ticket sales drop by 10% or more, I think the owners and players will realize the people have hit their limit and they had better think twice about doing this again.

    Please sign if you feel the same and can make the same committment. No worries if not. Thanks.


  • Greg

    Well I emailed the oilers management and just asked for a full refund of my tickets. They said they had no problem refunding the tickets.

    I just won’t bother spending my money to go the watch anymore.

    Instead will fly down to watch one NFL game.

  • RedMan

    “Dear NHL,I ain’t buying anymore nachos or beer! Ha, take that”

    Yep, that’ll show em. TThat’s a weak, EDMONTON response…

    we in Calgary are gonna do better… we ain’t goin to buy any jerseys for players that are over 30! This’ll really hit em hard!!! hahaha NHL, you lose!

  • RedMan

    I would be great to try and organize an NHL dark day, in which all fans boycott one game (such as the 1st or 2nd home game) to remind the owners and players that there is a 3rd entity in this business. I am a season ticket holder, and I would be willing to burn one game in protest.

  • RedMan

    It seems to me that this form of protest would hit the littlest guys the hardest (folks who run jersey/merch stores, run a food stand at the game, and the unions that represent them), while letting the league and the PA get away with continued guaranteed revenue streams via tickets and tv deals. Maybe like reacting to a teacher’s strike by vowing never to take the bus again.

    I get it, you want to keep your I’m A Fan card and still make a point, but I don’t quite get why you’d go after the people who will actually be hurt by this type of protest and who are already being hurt by a lockout they had no part in bringing about.

  • Derzie

    If you still go to the games, you’re part of the problem. The fat cat owners and players are BANKING on the droves to come back because the fans can’t help themselves. Vowing off food and drink is an empty promise really. When you go the game you see all of the loyal robots in line for beer and nachos and you’ll soon realize resistance is futile. Like anything in life, cold turkey is the only true solution. I’m sticking with TV. I know that will remain a free option for the same reason the owners and players know that fans will be back in droves to be their source of cash.