That was the gist of an article by Tim Panaccio on Thursday. Nobody can quite wrap their head around the fact that after losing the entire 2004-05 season, the NHL is already heading for another lockout less than a decade later, especially given the strides the league has made with fans since that debacle. Yet here we are, and Panotch tells us it's because they know you'll be back -- or in the words of Commissioner Gary Bettman:
“We recovered last time because we have the world's greatest fans.”
Allow Pinaccio to translate:
That, in a nutshell, is why the owners are willing to do it again. They know the sport will recover. They have past history to prove it.
Hockey fans are like addicts. They can’t resist the ice. They come back. Again and again.
It's insulting, but it also happens to be true. We came back the last time. We come back every time.
No games were missed as a result, but most fans who were bitter over an NFL lockout that extended into last summer were quick to forgive and forget, at least based on television ratings. The NBA didn't even miss a beat last season, granted their lockout was resolved in time to save the season. Those are relatively minor examples, but MLB is doing just fine 20 years after a strike cancelled the World Series. And as for the NHL, it has often clashed with the words "record popularity" in recent years, so yeah, they more than recovered the last time.
That doesn't mean -- assuming there is a lockout -- the NHL would suffer no ill-effects in the short term, but even if it takes some time, the overwhelming majority of us will eventually come back. We always do. Time heals all wounds and such.