GUARANTEED: YOU'LL BE BACK

Robin Brownlee
November 19 2012 11:42PM

Hockey fans north of the 49th parallel might say they're mad as hell and they aren't going to take it from Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr any more – that they won’t return even when NHL hockey eventually does -- but TEAM 1260 talk show host Jason Strudwick isn't buying it.

For all the noise some Canadian fans are making about turning their backs on the NHL after the third work stoppage during Bettman's tenure – "I'm done with it, I'm finished," screw those guys" – Strudwick is calling BS, and did so repeatedly tonight on his show. Fans might talk the talk, but they won't walk the walk, as in walk away.

"I guarantee it," Strudwick said, suggesting not only that most, but all, fans of the Edmonton Oilers and other Canadian teams will be back when the lockout eventually ends. "I guarantee you're coming back."

Not some. Not most. All. I found that take rather astounding, so I messaged Strudwick during his show. I asked him about his first reference to "all" fans coming back because he later said "most" fans would be back. "Which is it?" I asked. "All or most?" He replied: "Good point. I am going with all."

GOTTA HAVE IT

Back on the air after the break, Strudwick didn't only stand his ground, he didn't waste any time reiterating his point. Lots of whining now, but when the puck drops and Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins come racing through the gate, you'll all be back at Rexall Place or tuning in on the television. All talk, no action.

"All NHL fans are coming back to watch the game, in Canada," he said. "That's just simple. I have a lot of complaints from people. Walking down the street I get Tweets, I get texts all the time from people on the show saying, "I'm not coming back. I'm done with the NHL. I'll never come back.'

"I'm saying you’re wrong. I'm saying you will come back. All NHL fans will come back in Canada. The U.S. is a little different story. We can get into that another day."

I can't say I share Strudwick's optimism. I see far more fans staying away this time than was the case in 2004-05. Then again, as Bettman intimated in the early stages of this lockout, the NHL has the greatest fans, which many interpreted to mean the overwhelming majority will be back, ticket, TV and jersey money in hand.

What say you? Is your money where your mouth is or is that dough already earmarked for ticket mini-packs and souvenirs?

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

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A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Shredder
November 20 2012, 11:27AM
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Here's a hockey league that I believe will be able to compete with the other major league sports. I still think soccer is going to overtake hockey in the next 15 years, maybe not in Canada, but North America as a whole.

I understand the only possibility of this is if the NHL folds, and I don't see that happening, but I think the follwoing

28 team league (4 divisions of 7 teams - follow the proposed realignment that the NHL proposed a year ago).

Reduce the number of total games to 45, but dominate a few nights of the week: hockey Saturdays/Thursdays/Tuesdays (for example). -4 games against each divisional rival (6*4=24) -1 game against every other team in the league (7 teams per division * 3 other divisions = 21)

Playoffs are 1 game elimination (like Olympic/international hockey, NFL, and soccer). I find junior hockey to be really exciting with the 1 game elimination format. Players would have to play their hearts out on each shift.

No doubt, revenues would be down, but so would costs. Travel costs would especially be reduced. If demand is X and you reduce supply by half (roughly), the ticket prices have one direction to go, but it would make for a much more exciting atmosphere as fans only get to got so many games and sold the farm to get there.

But let me be the first to say this won't happen, it's just what I feel is best for the sport.

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#52 Shifty203
November 20 2012, 11:47AM
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Will I be back eventually? Probably.

Even if they start a Season in December, am I going to care? Doubtfull.

I've already got hobbies and projects planned out for this winter, so the chances of me sitting down to watch a game is next to 0. If its on, and i'm already sitting on the couch, i'll probably tune in for a few minutes. But there is no way I'm planning things around games this season, or putting stuff off to watch a game.

At the end of the day though, I agree with Struds. Everyone will be back eventually.

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#53 Bill
November 20 2012, 12:07PM
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Tell you what Robyn, it'll be (at minimum) a LONG time before I buy NHL tickets, NHL merchandise, NHL Center Ice.

Molson is hurting for Canadian sales? Yeah, that's right....I'm not buying Molson beer either. Not getting my 5 coffies a week at Timmies. Rexall? Forget it. The list goes on. No business for NHL sponsors until they start flexing muscle to get this settled.

The NHL needs a beatdown. They need to know that they can't keep shatting their bed like this and have everyone lining up when they finally get around to playing again.

The size of the NHL economy at the end of this should be a shadow of what it was going in. Whether it happens or not depends on arbitrary decisions by fans with their money. Maybe the best thing in terms of fallout would be the final failure of at least 2-3 franchises that their markets will never support.

The NHL needs to hurt as a result of their blatant disregard for those who enable their sport. I'm going to do my part to send the message.

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#54 Jprime
November 20 2012, 12:18PM
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I will definitely come back to watch the games via television or upon free tickets. But, I am no longer going to be purchasing tickets to the games.

Fans WILL be back. Just not necessarily ticket holders. There is a significant difference.

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#55 Big Cap
November 20 2012, 12:20PM
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If you are listening to the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm -12am on a Monday night, reading this fantastic web site, and or posting on it... Begrudge it all you want...BUT, you'll be back!!

See you there!

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#56 roger
November 20 2012, 12:35PM
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i won't be back but i have not been back for awhile with two kids and one on the way my ability to afford tickets to games was curbed along time ago. the only time i attend is if i get free tickets through work and things aren't looking too good for this year. that being said i get a kick out of the players and owners, with the players especially, trying to create an atmosphere where it apperars fans are on their side in this soap opera. bolth are not held in any esteem by the majority of people who are paying any attention to this little drama. i hope the players keep it up it is very entertaining, and very apparent once you reach a certain tax bracket your ability to connect with the middle class evaporates.

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#57 ryan
November 20 2012, 12:56PM
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and you wonder why no deal is done between the NHLPA and the league. This is how the players think. I thought I was delusional thinking that o'mark was going to be our next big star but struddys out did me on this one

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#58 Pucker
November 20 2012, 01:06PM
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Can't wait for Oiler hockey to start again. I'll be back. The non-Oiler games, I'm not so sure about. I find I'm pressed for time now, without spending 4-10 hours of free time per week watching hockey.

I'm one of those guys that never bought an Oiler's jersey with a name (I did buy my dad a Pronger jersey during the cup run. He's still not talking to me). This year I bought my kids some Hall and RNH jerseys/hats.

That stops now. Or at least last season. It irks me more than a little that this lockout/strike seems to be the two sides fighting over how to split profits - particularly when so much is tied to overpriced paraphanalia. Time to get the parents to educate the kids.

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#59 smiliegirl15
November 20 2012, 02:20PM
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I'm with Struds, especially when all the kids come back in fine form and give us something to cheer about again.

If they don't come back, they were bandwagon jumpers and not really hockey fans in the first place.

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#60 G Money
November 20 2012, 02:27PM
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In Canada - *of course* we'll be back. The madder you are about the strike, the more it means you care - which means the sooner you'll return. (P.S. if you're posting in a fan forum like this one about how apathetic you are or plan to be, you already made Strudwick's point).

Slightly different story in the US I would guess. Most passionate fans will be back just like Canadian fans. The more casual fans and the fair weather fans might fall out of the habit.

They'll probably eventually return for the same reason they showed up in the first place, but in the short/medium term, the weak teams in weak markets will be hurt, maybe even quite badly.

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#61 Bryan in SK
November 20 2012, 03:00PM
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Like I said in a previous post, my wife thinks Saturday night is date night now, so what's a guy to do??? Maybe if the Oilers make the playoffs.... or maybe next season.... but I think the precedent's been set for this year, unless Strudwick is willing to call my house and bail me out somehow.

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#62 Pucker
November 20 2012, 03:50PM
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Bryan in SK wrote:

Like I said in a previous post, my wife thinks Saturday night is date night now, so what's a guy to do??? Maybe if the Oilers make the playoffs.... or maybe next season.... but I think the precedent's been set for this year, unless Strudwick is willing to call my house and bail me out somehow.

Expect a baby boom next fall.

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#63 Mike Modano's Dog
November 20 2012, 04:00PM
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Hey R.B. - good question!

I used to have season tickets at one time, but it took me much too long to pay off - even after the season was done. Had the Oilers made the playoffs that year it would have broken my heart. I wouldn't have been able to purchase the playoff tickets.

Therefore I won't be back - not at the current prices anyway. That's not whining either; just reality.

Love Hockey, Love the Oilers, LOVED going to the games all year, the year I did...but never will be able to afford to do it again.*

* IF I win the lottery consider me back, though!

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#64 Thinker
November 20 2012, 04:21PM
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I'll be back, but i wont be buying any more mechandise.

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#65 michael
November 20 2012, 04:55PM
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I have never left. I support hockey in all its forms.NHL,AHL,WHL and OHL.NHL when it comes back will be fine with me.

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#66 MAC962
November 20 2012, 07:02PM
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I will watch on TV. I will not buy tickets or merchandise. Dont look a gift horse in the mouth Strudwick, at least not this one. I myself may not make a difference but..... dont be so sure.

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#67 Milli
November 20 2012, 07:04PM
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The only way I buy a ticket this year is if the Mighty Oil make the playoffs, cuz I ain't missing that! As for regular season, I have already paid for a trip to Okc (2 barons games) and then to Houston for a Texans game. Next year, ya, I'll be back. I love hockey and suffered through the dry years, you think I'm gonna miss Hall, Ebs, Nuge, Yak, Shultz....and on and on? NOT A CHANCE!

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#68 wiseguy
November 20 2012, 07:09PM
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The problem is supply and demand for tickets in Edmonton where demand is too high thus supporting the high price of tickets. I'm not renewing my Eskimos season tickets to protest the brutal management and trading of Ricky Ray. If they get their act together, I'll start going again. If I give up my oiler tickets, there's a thousand people waiting to buy them so the protest act will be moot. In the poorer hockey markets, fans will give up their tickets and there won't be anyone to take their place.

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#69 jr_christ
November 20 2012, 08:52PM
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Oh I certainly will watch hockey again. I will most certainly not spend money to watch hockey again for a while.

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#70 BigE91
November 20 2012, 10:15PM
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They say never say never but I think it will be a long time before I pay to watch a game again. With the way the lockout has gone along with the subversive way the Oilers and other NHL teams pushed their season tickets, mini-packs and single game seats far earlier than a normal year when they knew full well that the season would not start on time if at all.

Canadians will come back to the game but neither the league nor the players deserve it. They could care less about the fans, and we shouldn't care about them.

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#71 camsoilers
November 21 2012, 12:23AM
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Shifty203 wrote:

Will I be back eventually? Probably.

Even if they start a Season in December, am I going to care? Doubtfull.

I've already got hobbies and projects planned out for this winter, so the chances of me sitting down to watch a game is next to 0. If its on, and i'm already sitting on the couch, i'll probably tune in for a few minutes. But there is no way I'm planning things around games this season, or putting stuff off to watch a game.

At the end of the day though, I agree with Struds. Everyone will be back eventually.

I have bad news you are reading blogs this long into a halted season. Your arguement is invalid. You won't be "back eventually" your still here,still waiting and there can be no return if u never left

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#72 Crooked
November 21 2012, 01:59PM
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I'll always enjoy watching the game, but I'm done paying for it for a long time. I really hope a lot of other people are too.

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#73 Bryan in SK
November 22 2012, 06:51AM
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Pucker wrote:

Expect a baby boom next fall.

Maybe in your house, Pucker. But that ship has sailed here. I'm old enough to remember the Oilers' first Cup, and I know who John Ziegler was. Now, my daughters are fairly close in age to Eberle, Nuge, Hall.... hmmmmmm.....

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#74 nunyour
November 22 2012, 02:54PM
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Don't forget 3/4 of the teams are based in the u.s. Think they will be back?

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#75 dave
November 25 2012, 10:45AM
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Don't confuse the fact that because we're still here means we're still obsessed about the game itself. Some of us simply like to watch process, to see what the game being played in the CBA is. Some like to watch a train wreck. Most people are bored lemmings that only do / follow what they are used to, but too much time away or too many times being forced to deal with a loss = less likelihood to return with the inunhibited elation as before, which leads many to be a little more cautious. To not see the above or to consider the many other avenues in life that psychologically drive us as individuals is to remain in the delusional merry-go-round that the NHLPA seems to think will stop. Someone best inform them of what the attendance figures in MLB were when things got rough. And for those slamming Bettman for the work stoppages, look at Fehr's record on the issue. Who's been involved in more work stoppages? And the lpayers wanting Bettman's head for all those stopages, remember - you hired the guy with the worst track record of them all.

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