Inside the NHL Lockout With CSN’s Kevin Kurz


The NHL lockout has reached its 53rd day, but optimism remains high that we will have at least some sort of a season.

For some insight into the lockout and how it affects other areas, we turned to CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz, who was generous enough to answer a few questions for us:

Q: With the cancelation of all November games and the Winter Classic, what are the chances that we will even have an NHL season?

A: This week is looking much better than last week. The two sides seem to be actually negotiating now, and it may be the first time we can say that in this entire process. It seems like the Winter Classic cancellation acted as a bit of a wake up call, and both sides realized that any more damage to the game might be irreparable. Still, there are many issues for them to sort through and agree upon before any agreement can be made. The players are insistent that their current contracts are honored, while the owners want an immediate 50-50 split of revenue and a number of restrictions on future contracts.

The hope is that they’ll continue to meet this week, and also continue to avoid verbal sniping at each other through the media. If everything remains quiet over the next few days, that’s a sign of progress.

Q: How have the San Francisco Bulls prospered from the lack of Sharks’ hockey, and do you think Sharks’ supporters are following the Bulls?

A: I have only been to one Bulls game – their home opener. I think they did a real nice job fixing up the Cow Palace and it was a good atmosphere for a minor league game. I did see many Sharks jerseys in the crowd, so I would suspect some of them are fans that attend at least a few games at HP Pavilion and were eager to see some live hockey.

Hopefully the Bulls can continue to draw a decent crowd when the Sharks return, although I’m not really sure there is any correlation in the fan bases, to be honest. Having worked for an AHL team before, I can tell you minor league hockey is more about family entertainment and a night out while NHL fans are much more concerned with whether the team wins or loses.

Q: Hockey is generally regarded as the least popular of the four major American sports. Will this lockout (second one in a decade) decrease the popularity of hockey even more in the US?

A: If there’s a shortened 60-70 game season, no. If there is another cancelled season? Absolutely. I think that NHL fans that attend games are the most loyal of the four major sports, and a CBA agreement within the next two weeks would minimize or even nullify any damage done so far. If the players and owners cancel another season, though (which I don’t anticipate), the hard core fans may have finally had enough. You simply can’t wipe out two seasons in an eight year span and call yourself a viable league.