SUN Hockey Pool

Fans don't see end to NHL lockout anytime soon

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters Thursday that a relocation of the troubled Atlanta...

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters Thursday that a relocation of the troubled Atlanta Thrashers is not imminent. (LYLE ASPINALL/QMI Agency file photo)

Tim Baines, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

It's not a pretty picture.

With two sides in a labour dispute indignantly digging in their heels, tossing around terms like HRR (hockey related revenue), you'd need more than rose-coloured glasses to be optimistic about a return to the ice for NHL players anytime soon.

It's hard to imagine there'll be a winner in the no-time-limit battle between Don Fehr (and his players) and Gary Bettman (and his owners).

Fans are pessimistic that any kind of settlement is on the horizon.

In a QMI Agency online poll, with more than 12,000 responses, a whopping 51.26% said the lockout won't end until next season. Just 4.54% were drinking the NHL Kool-Aid, thinking there would be a resolution to the lockout very soon.

Is hockey on the decline and does the lockout add to that problem with children trying other sports? A stunning 65.67% gave a huge, “Hell, yeah.”

More than 65% said youth soccer would benefit most.

Bettman should probably shelve any plans he may have for running for office. He was described as “useless” by 44.88% and an owners' puppet by 29.2%. In fact, just 14.61% saw him as a strong leader. If self-esteem is an issue, Bettman might lead a little giddy-up from Tony Robbins. Bettman, Mr. Charisma, has become the poster boy for NHL work stoppages; this is the third one with him in charge.

To be fair to the commish, hockey revenues have grown substantially under his watch. But fans don't give a flying Wallenda about that. They just want hockey, not excuses and bafflegab about dividing up revenues.

With many NHL players scrambling to find places to play in Europe, they might be surprised to find out 65.62% of those responding to our poll say it's unfair that they are allowed to take jobs away from people over there. Put the shoe on the other foot ... how would the NHLers like it if some of them were “temporarily” getting their paycheques taken away by other players?

More than 55% of those responding to our poll said with the NHL on hiatus, Canadian junior hockey would be the most exciting brand of hockey. The American Hockey League will be stacked with plenty of emerging NHL stars and got 26.24% of the vote.

Fans said the CHL and NFL will benefit most from a lockout, but keep in mind the CFL got a huge boost from the last lockout, in 2004-05.

A surprising number of those voting, 32.78% said Winnipeg would be the Canadian city most affected, with less than half of that pointing at Toronto.

It's obvious fans want hockey back, but they want it back now, not a year from now.

So who's going to apply the most pressure on the warring sides? More than 50% said an outraged public would be best to convey the message. Don Cherry got 6.88% of the vote.

Come to think of it, maybe we miss Grapes more than the NHL itself.

BREAKOUT QUOTES

“Greedy owners will kill the goose that laid the golden egg, we need another WHA.”

“Bottom line is the worst player in the league on a one-way deal makes $550,000/year, in this economy, and you're on strike because...?”

“I think hockey is reaching its tipping point. They are pricing themselves out of business. They need a strong leader like a Dalton McGuinty who understands labour relations and finance to get their house in order.”

“(Gary Bettman) is paid by the owners to represent and advise the owners ... he isn't paid to care about the game.”

SOME OF OUR FINDINGS...

Which of the following best describes Gary Bettman as NHL commissioner?

  • Useless 44.88% (5,255 votes)
  • Owners' puppet 29.2% (3,419 votes)
  • Strong leader 14.61% (1,711 votes)
  • Adequate 11.3% (1,323 votes)

During the lockout, which of the following leagues will have the most entertaining hockey?

  • CHL 55.2% (6,087 votes)
  • AHL 26.24% (2,894 votes)
  • KHL 15.55% (1,715 votes)
  • NCAA 1.15% (127 votes)

Many of the locked-out players are electing to join European teams. Is that fair?

  • No, unfair to the people whose jobs they are taking away 65.62% (7,514 votes)
  • Yes, everyone should be able to play where they want 34.38% (3,936 votes)

People are saying hockey in Canada is on the decline. Will this lockout add to the problem?

  • Yes, more children will take up other sports 65.67% (7,446 votes)
  • No, those interested will not be affected 34.33% (3,893 votes)

For those who lose interest in playing hockey because of yet another lockout, which sport will benefit most by increased numbers?

  • Soccer, indoor or otherwise 65.58% (6,946 votes)
  • Basketball 22.65% (2,399 votes)
  • Skiing 8.33% (882 votes)
  • Figure skating 3.45% (365 votes)

Who can put the most pressure on the two sides to solve the NHL labour dispute?

  • Outraged public 50.85% (5,677 votes)
  • TV networks 32.91% (3,674 votes)
  • Out of work players 9.36% (1,045 votes)
  • Don Cherry 6.88% (768 votes)

The media has an opportunity to give you different options when reading or viewing. What would you like to see more of?

  • CHL 33.73% (3,547 votes)
  • NFL 23.46% (2,467 votes)
  • CFL 13.64% (1,434 votes)
  • Canadian university sports 12.75% (1,341 votes)
  • MLB 5.31% (558 votes)
  • Poker 5.03% (529 votes)
  • MLS 3.48% (366 votes)
  • NBA 2.61% (274 votes)

When will this lockout come to an end?

  • Next season 51.26% (5,675 votes)
  • December 17.73% (1,963 votes)
  • January 13.97% (1,547 votes)
  • November 12.49% (1,383 votes)
  • Very soon 4.54% (503 votes)

Which of the following Canadian NHL teams will this lockout affect the most?

  • Winnipeg 32.78% (3,596 votes)
  • Toronto 14.95% (1,640 votes)
  • Ottawa 13.95% (1,530 votes)
  • Edmonton 13.21% (1,449 votes)
  • Vancouver 12.02% (1,319 votes)
  • Calgary 9.82% (1,077 votes)
  • Montreal 3.27% (359 votes)

 


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