With a possible lockout once again looming over the NHL, I wanted to take the time and break to some possibilities of what it could mean to the St. Louis Blues and the NHL as a whole. Remembering back to what happened in 2004 with the last one, I do remember it felt like I had lost all touch with the sport itself. I was graduating high school in the Kansas City area after moving away from the St. Louis area mid-sophomore year. When the lockout hit, though being in a non-hockey market, I lost all connections to the sport. Even after the lockout ended, I was in college too focused on just keeping my grades up, which I failed miserably at. It took a couple of years for me to start following the sport again and find the passion for it I had growing up in St. Louis. This could be a very real possibility for the NHL and smaller market teams like the Blues this time around and could put the final nail in the coffin for many fans that just came back to watching after the last lockout.
I really think if this lockout hits and starts interfering with regular season games, a lot of fans will just give up on the league and more importantly the sport itself. In the time since the last lockout, we have seen this game grow exponentially in popularity again and get bigger then it was before the last lockout. Not to say this was exactly a golden era of the game because the popularity will never grow as big as it was when the likes of Gretzky and Messier were still in uniform.
The disappointing thing for fans is that the greed of owners and players alike is stepping in the way of younger fans from really enjoying this game and learning to play such a beautiful sport. The essence of it all will be forgotten when parents like myself have to explain to their kids that millionaires are arguing over who is going to make more millions. The kids are the real victims in this and are going to be dejected in this power struggle.
For small market teams like the Blues who took a few years to regain the trust and loyalty of their fan base, it is going to be essentially a death blow. St. Louis is a blue collar town that enjoys watching its hockey team implement a blue collar strategy into its game plan. The fans might not come back this time.
Just remember that in the heat of the summer right now, the greedy are trying to find ways to get more money, while ignoring the fans altogether.