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?