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The Boston Globe



The NHL lockout’s lasting damage

Maybe fans will return, maybe they won’t. Either way, hockey hurt its future.

“IT’S A GO!!” TWEETED MONTREAL CANADIENS defenseman Josh Gorges to his more than 23,000 followers. No, he wasn’t referring to the end of the NHL lockout on January 12, but rather to a pickup game he’d organized with his spare time during it. On December 26, the 103d day of the lockout, dozens of skaters responded, showing up at a neighborhood rink in Montreal. Getting to share the ice with a pro player was a dream for fans, while Gorges’s work making the game happen was a sign of his respect for them. Now if only the rest of the National Hockey League acted the same way.

Since hockey has returned, there’s been lots of talk about putting hard feelings aside and doing right by fans, starting with a full-page apology the NHL took out in major newspapers (including this one) a couple of weeks ago. But the kinds of perks being offered here and elsewhere — free concessions, open practices, pro shop discounts — strike me as short-term, pandering solutions to a bigger, long-term problem.

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