There is concern that since the NHL is experiencing its second lockout in seven years, and possibly the loss of an entire season for the second time, that sponsors and fans will both turn away.
Head of Stellick Marketing Communications, Bob Stellick, said that “One of the bigger problems the NHL has with its sponsors is a lot of people remember the last lockout [2004-05] and if they go through another year like that, people won’t be as forgiving.”
He believes that sponsors will begin to question how worthwhile it is if there is a year with no hockey.
Coupled with the fact that tickets, merchandise and other sales could be lost from a potentially cancelled Winter Classic; the league is probably going to lose at least $15 million
However, Larry Quinn, the former managing partner and minority owner of the Buffalo Sabres, said that the NHL has spent a lot of time preparing sponsors for a possible cancellation.
“I’m sure everyone’s frustration level is high, but I’m also sure the league made them understand the parameters. Any sponsor committed to the kind of dollars involved was certainly well aware and probably briefed by the NHL.”
He says he believes the league can hang on to its sponsors.