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NHL Lockout: Hockey is best at losing games due to labor strife

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer
If the NHL locks out the players this weekend it will be the third time that has happened during Gary Bettman's watch as commissioner. (Getty Images)

If there is one thing the NHL has been great at over the past 20 years it's been the ability to provide its fan base with a steady cycle of work stoppages and lockouts.

The league has had three work stoppages in its history, beginning with the April 1992 strike, and we're just days away from what will be the fourth. Based on the (lack of) developments over the past couple of days, and the rather pessimistic news conference held by Donald Fehr on Thursday afternoon, it's inevitable at this point -- another work stoppage will happen.

The league has missed more games due to work stoppages than any of the other four major North American sports dating to 1992. Major League Baseball has lost 938 games, all the result of the 1994 player strike, while the NBA has lost 788 games due to its various lockouts. The NFL has not missed any games during that stretch outside of one exhibition game last year (the Hall of Fame game) due to work stoppages.

See for yourself:

As Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise put it on Thursday when asked about commissioner Gary Bettman: "He loves his lockouts."

Yes. And so does the NHL.

The history of NHL lost games follows:

NHL History Of Work Stoppages
SeasonStoppageDaysRegular Season Games Lost
1991-92Player Strike100*
1994-95Lockout104468
2004-05Lockout3101,230
Totals 4241,698

(*All games that were missed during the 10-day player strike during the 1991-92 season were rescheduled, so no games were actually lost.)

Unless something drastic happens quickly, it's practically a given that another line soon will be added to this table and those totals at the bottom will increase.

It wasn't until the 1994-95 season that the NHL had a work stoppage result in the actual loss of games. The season was cut from an 84-game schedule down to 48. The 2004-05 lockout was the longest work stoppage in sports history, and the first (and only) time a league lost a full season.

How did fans respond when play resumed in 2005-06? By passing through the turnstiles in record numbers, setting what was at the time a league-wide attendance record with 20,854,160 fans showing up at NHL arenas that season. And that's why the two sides aren't worried about fans at this point -- they know you'll be back whenever the puck is dropped.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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