February 16, 2005


NHL lockout drains Quebec of jobs, spirit (Bob Hohler, February 16, 2005, Boston Globe)

As the NHL lockout approached its 154th day, authorities in Quebec had yet to tally the full economic impact, but it was expected to exceed the blow to Boston's business community: an estimated $30 million if the entire season is canceled, according to Pat Moscaritolo, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In January alone, Canada lost 5,700 jobs, according to the national statistical agency, which attributed the drop partly to hockey-related layoffs at restaurants and bars.

"I'm sure there will be more people laid off soon," Gaucher said, with his wife, Manon, translating his French, and their 10-year-old son, Maxime, playing a video game in a room adorned with NHL memorabilia. "The sad thing is, I don't think the players or the owners care."

The greatest danger the NHL faces, many Canadians said, is that the fans will stop caring. Up and down the streets of Montreal, where numerous sports bars are shuttered, fans, workers, and business owners expressed various degrees of sorrow, anger, frustration, disgust, resignation, and apathy as the NHL stalemate chewed up the final weeks of the season.

A recent poll found that nearly 40 percent of the NHL's Canadian fans no longer miss the game.

"It will never be the same again," said Enrique Santana, manager of Sports Crescent, an apparel and souvenir shop on Saint Catherine Street in Montreal where business has dropped 30 percent. "The players used to play with heart. Now, they're only playing for the money. A lot of people are so mad that even if [the NHL] comes back next season, they won't care anymore."

The disaffection has seized the attention of Canadian leaders, including the minister of social development, Ken Dryden, a former Hall of Fame goaltender for the Canadiens.

"You never want to give a fan a chance to find out whether it was passion or a habit," Dryden told reporters of the nation's waning interest in its pastime.

C'mon, they're Canadians, what else do they have to fill their empty lives? Sitting around staring at their National Health cards?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 16, 2005 8:18 AM


Posted by: AllenS at February 16, 2005 8:21 AM

I get my fill of hockey with College, High School and Youth Leagues. The NHL is not a first choice
for me. I think the league has too many teams
in too many places.

Posted by: J.H. at February 16, 2005 8:50 AM

"C'mon, they're Canadians, what else do they have to fill their empty lives? Sitting around staring at their National Health cards?"

They might as well start contemplating other major lifestyle changes. Their Kyoto committment requires them to cut CO2 emissions 35% by 2012 (currently, Canadian emissions are rising 1.5% annually).

Posted by: curt at February 16, 2005 9:13 AM


Oh, we're not in any great rush.

Posted by: Peter B at February 16, 2005 9:25 AM

Curt -

There are those who believe that all these "excess" CO2 emissions have simply been suppressing the onset of a serious, mini ice age. Canadians may be investing a fair bit of GDP between now and 2012 to beat Global Warming and get to play hockey outdoors, ALL year-round.

Posted by: Moe from NC at February 16, 2005 9:30 AM

I view hockey about the same way oj views soccer.

Posted by: Bartman at February 16, 2005 9:33 AM

When I heard the news, I realized I care more whether Gryffindor wins the Quidditch Cup in the next Harry Potter novel, than in the whole NHL season.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at February 16, 2005 10:07 AM

Peter -

For your sake, I hope that Ottawa does not make a serious run at meeting the treaty obligations. Were it to do so, I imagine emigration from that cold, dark, expensive place would be on the scale of Irish emigration during the potato famine.

Posted by: curt at February 16, 2005 10:30 AM

It's an OK live sport because it's fast, and the tickets are cheap if you've got a minor league team. Maine Mariners tickets used to be about $4 - $6 if I remember right.

Posted by: joe shropshire at February 16, 2005 10:32 AM

Hockey is a great sport that is terrible on normal TV. The action is fast, but the puck is small so its very difficult to follow the puck.

You can only tell where the puck has been based on the reaction of the players -- sort of how scientists detect the presense of black holes by their effects on things around them.

Anyway, Hockey is a VERY different game on HDTV, you can follow the puck and you can see more of the action on HD. I think that as HD gets into more and more homes (probably in the US cause Canadians are all poor), that hockey might take off (relatively speaking).

In that regard, I see the current lock out as the owners chance to reset the rules before their TV contract becomes much more valuable. But, its taking too long and the owner's leverage is going to start to dissolve when this season is cancelled and they can't sell any tickets or sponsorships for next season

Posted by: AML at February 16, 2005 10:45 AM


Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 16, 2005 11:23 AM

Moe - Not just year-round, at steadily rising elevations.

Posted by: pj at February 16, 2005 12:05 PM

I believe that should be lower elevations. If I remember correctly, the rule of thumb is a drop of 3°F per 1000ft rise in elevation.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 16, 2005 9:50 PM

Hockey will live on, even if the institution, the NHL, dies! Life, death, the hope of new life after death...sounds theological, sort of.

Posted by: Dave W. at February 16, 2005 11:47 PM
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