December 18, 2012
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock: NHL 'could end up like bowling'
By QMI Agency
It’s a fan forecast the NHL’s ongoing labour woes propelled Mike Babcock to disclose.
The Detroit Red Wings head coach is fearful the league – when and if it comes back – will return to a dark place.
"Hate to say it,” Babcock told Sportsnet.ca, “but we could end up like bowling."
Or, uh, poker.
One of the league’s elite head coaches replayed visions of the last NHL lockout Tuesday, voicing his concern over what awaits the league and its players once they settle the score.
Looking back, TV numbers following the 2004-05 lockout plummeted. According to ESPN, an average of just 117,000 U.S. households watched NHL games on the Outdoor Life Network during the 2005-2006 season, less than a third of the average audience that tuned into ESPN for NHL games before the last work stoppage.
In an attempt to predict what lies ahead, ratings for the NHL on OLN after the 2004-05 lockout were trounced by that of poker, bowling and the WNBA, which has Babcock fearful yet another loss of viewership might be in the cards.