How the NHL lockout affects hockey's young fans

Now that the NHL lockout is over, fans look to the possible residual effects it could have on hockey, especially to some of its youngest supporters

January 8, 2013

Judith Ruiz-Branch

Blackhawks fans will soon be able to see their favorite players back on the rink after the NHL Player’s Association reached a tentative contract agreement.

Some of the team’s youngest fans are already working to score a ticket.

“My kids keep bugging me about being able to take them to hockey games again,” said Mike Mullaly, former President of the Ameteur Hockey Association of Illinois.

But Mullaly said even though fans are excited, he is worried that the lockout will discourage children from starting the sport.

“We’re going to lose kids because of the lack of NHL games, absolutely” he said. “Particularly the youngest ones.”

Mullaly said the Blackhawks have a trickle down effect on the sport as a whole.

He said that was clear after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup.

“When you have this huge groundswell with the Blackhawks and the enthusiasm for that, you also have an increase in (hockey) participation,” Mullaly said. 

Facilities supervisor at the Northbrook Park District Bruce Friedman disagrees.

He says maybe if the lockout had continued.
“(If) the kids didn’t have the professionals to look at and so forth that it could have made an impact in a negative kind of way eventually,” Friedman said. “But I don’t think it’s gotten to that point.”