NHL fans are angry, have little hope there's going to be a season and believe both the players and owners are responsible for the ongoing impasse in negotiations.
Those were the prevailing sentiments in an online survey concerning the NHL lockout conducted by CBCSports.ca.
The 10-question survey was taken more than 7,000 times during the four days it was online starting last Friday. The responses reveal a lot of bitterness over the league's second work stoppage in the last seven years.
The first question of the survey was the one that's on every hockey fan's mind — whether there will actually be a season. A large number of participants didn't feel confident there's going to be any hockey this year.
The survey, published to the website just one day after discussions between NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr fell apart in dramatic fashion last week, revealed a big majority, 68 per cent, felt there wouldn't be a season, compared to just 11 per cent who thought NHL hockey would begin in the foreseeable future.
In contrast to the last NHL lockout in 2004-05, where public opinion mostly sided with the owners, blame is being equally spread in this work stoppage among hockey fans, according to the survey.
When asked which side they supported, 55 per cent responded, "Neither." The players were next with 26 per cent of votes, nine points better than the owners.
On Monday, the NHL announced it was cancelling all of its games until Dec. 31. Nearly 43 per cent of the season — 526 games in total — have now been lost to this latest work stoppage.
Fans are "angry" at the lack of progress on a deal. That's the emotion 54 per cent most identified with when asked to describe their feelings on the lockout.
Twenty-six per cent said they "don't care" followed by 18 per cent who were "sad" the lockout delayed hockey for at least three months.
If the league does resume this season, fans feel leaders from both sides should be held responsible.
Fifty-five per cent of respondents believe both Bettman and Fehr should step down. Twenty-four per cent said only Bettman should leave his post, followed by 13 per cent who think only Fehr deserves to be shown the door.
If the survey is any indication, teams might be playing in front of a lot of empty seats when they return. Of our respondents, 78 per cent said they would not buy a ticket to an NHL game if the lockout ends this season.
What's the one thing that might bring fans back? Fifty-eight per cent of participants said less expensive tickets are adequate compensation for making them endure a lockout for the second time in the last eight years. Twenty-seven per cent asked for a public apology.
If history is any indication, fans might see a temporary rollback of ticket prices when the lockout is over.
In an effort to entice fans back after the cancelled 2004-05 season, average ticket prices dropped by just over $2 a game. The average cost of a single ticket back in 2005-06 was $41.19. Last season, it was $57.10.
To see the full results of our survey, click here for the PDF file.