Since CBA negotiations began, Gary Bettman hasn't been too concerned about the chance NHL fans may not return to the sport once the lockout ends. In fact, he seemed rather confident that that teams wouldn't take a hit in their fanbases at all. But now fans are proving that they're not afraid to go elsewhere for their hockey entertainment.
The Rockford IceHogs opened their season against the Chicago Wolves over the weekend with a roster that included a number of Blackhawks players. A number of fans already stated they would be attending AHL games as the United Center remains quiet, but how has this affected their opinions on the NHL lockout?
While some fans were just happy to be watching hockey again, seeing Rockford on the ice just made them miss the Blackhawks even more.
But when it comes down to it, hockey fans just want to see hockey and will catch a glimpse of the sport wherever they can.
Now that fans are going elsewhere to watch hockey, they're given the opportunity to build loyalty and a relationship with another team, which could disprove Bettman's belief that all fans will be back when the season returns.
Has the start of the AHL season affected your outlook of the NHL lockout?
In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Mark Carman (WGN Radio), Chris Hine (Chicago Tribune) and Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report) join Mark Schanowski on the panel.
Chris Sale is back in town. Do the White Sox miss their old ace?
Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta’s agent defends his client’s velocity drop. Does he have a point?
Plus LeBron James talks about his legacy, Tiger Woods’ fall from grace continues and the panel remembers legendary sportswriter Frank Deford.
Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:
From a record standpoint, the White Sox are maybe slightly above where most expected them to be this season.
From a run differential standpoint, the White Sox are way above any expectation.
After Monday’s 5-4 win against the Red Sox, the White Sox improved to 24-26 on the season. Impressively, the Sox have a plus-28 run differential, which is good for third-best in the American League.
The two AL teams higher than the White Sox in the category are both first-place teams. Houston is 36-16 with a whopping plus-74 differential while the Yankees are 29-19 and come in at plus-57.
The White Sox have the best run differential in the AL Central. The division-leading Twins (26-21) actually have a negative run differential at minus-7. The Twins are one of two teams with a negative run differential and a winning record (Baltimore is 26-23 with a minus-6 differential).
There are 15 teams in Major League Baseball with positive run differentials and the White Sox are the only team in that group more than one game under .500.
So what does that mean? Well, for one it could be a positive sign that the White Sox are actually a better team than their record. More plainly, it means the White Sox are winning games by bigger margins than they are losing them.
Monday’s win improved the White Sox record in one-run games to 5-7. The Sox are also 2-4 in two-run games and 3-5 in three-run games. That's a 10-16 mark in games decided by three runs or less. Meanwhile, in games decided by four runs or more the White Sox are 14-10.
What’s even stranger about the lack of success in close games is that the White Sox have the fourth best ERA among relievers in MLB.
May isn’t quite over yet so things can still even out in one direction or another, but these are certainly some odd numbers.