By Shawna Windom
After a season-long lockout, the National Hockey League is getting back on the ice, but the NHL questions whether or not they?ll be able to get fans in their seats.
According to The Associated Press, the NHL is starting to worry about the fan support that awaits them at the beginning of the hockey season. The recent lockout marks the NHL as being the first North American sports league to lose a year because of a labor conflict.
Patrick Perrett, director of publicity and marketing for the IceCats hockey club, offered his opinion of the NHL?s situation.
?The teams are going to have to win the fans back,? Perrett said. ?A lot of teams ? I know of 10 teams for sure ? are already starting to reduce their ticket prices to ensure they will have fan support.?
Perrett said this recent agreement will finally get national hockey back where it needs to be ? on the ice. But Perrett also said some disappointed fans may not be as supportive of their teams as they have been in the past.
?I think it”s going to take a little bit of time for people to get back in the swing of things,? said Doug Sitler, an annoyed Buffalo Sabres fan, to the AP. ?But sports fans are pretty fickle. They have short memories. They really do.?
Nashville Predators forward Jim McKenzie told the AP that he also has fears for NHL fan support this year. He said the next step they need to take, as a league, is to win back the respect of the fans that they have offended ? a job that will not be easy.
?At the end of the day, everybody lost,? said Wayne Gretzky, the NHL”s career scoring leader and the managing partner of the Phoenix Coyotes, to the AP. ?We almost crippled our industry. It was very disappointing what happened.?
Perrett said his only worry for Utah?s IceCats concerning the recent controversies with the national level of hockey is the disappointment that has taken a toll on hockey fans everywhere. Perrett said a lot of hockey fans felt alienated after the lockout.
The NHL?s agreement has not been fully approved and its public debut will not be until sometime this week, after it has been fully ratified.