As the recession worsens and people start re-evaluating the money they allocate to entertainment expenditures, there's been some discussion about how the NHL will keep fans coming back.
First and foremost are extraordinarily deep ticket price cuts in markets with struggling teams, which are already happening. But there's also been the notion that NHL hockey could become a little more attuned to our primal cravings: that fighting may increase to put fannies in the seats.
Violence sells, in sports and in Hollywood. A guy like Denis Leary knows this, which is why the Boston Bruins fan and noted supporter of all things puck (to the point of stomaching some time on the ice with Rachel Ray) believes fisticuffs will dramatically increase during the economic downturn.
"What's going to happen now is, for the next four or five years because people are going to be very careful about how they spend their money ... this whole idea of the fighting going away is just going to drop right out of the equation.
"First of all, I love the fighting. And second of all, now they're going to be like 'we gotta sell our product, man. We gotta keep these buildings full.' So I think it's going to go back to the old school.
"By the way: I don't like goons. But one of the great things about hockey is that, unlike anything else in life, if you're gonna be a jerk to my teammate, you're going to have to answer and you're going to have to answer right now in front of 18,000 people.
"I wish the Senate was run that way. If Barney Frank mouths off about some ridiculous thing, somebody else just walks up and they drop the gloves and then they go. Live on C-SPAN."
To which Lil' Jimmy Norton suggested the Frank and Larry Craig "drop their pants and go." Cringe radio indeed.
One of our grandest unfulfilled dreams was the NHL on HBO, which would have included a 12-minute uncensored segment between periods featuring Bob Costas, Denis Leary, Cam Neely and a revolving chair of guests. Maybe Leary could have even worn his Neely sweater.
What do you think? Will fighting rise as revenues fall? Will it remain status quo? Or will the NHL, in deference to potential advertisers, attempt to curb fighting even more than it has?