Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE
The lockout is finally over, which is good news for hockey fans. However, for supporters of the Whitecaps, a full season NHL lockout might've been just what the doctor ordered.
For the final three Canadians whom are unaware of this fact, the NHL lockout finally ended early this morning, meaning a shortened 48 game regular season is just on the horizon. For die hard hockey fans, this is great news. Hockey runs in the blood of all Canadians, and it should be a great season.
That being said, for supporters of the Whitecaps, or any Canadian MLS team, the best thing would've been a full fledged lockout. Yes, I know that as a Canadian, this sounds like blasphemy, but it's a true statement. Basically, if the lockout had lasted the entire season, Canadian MLS teams would've gotten a ridiculous amount of exposure and attention from fans and the media who are usually too wrapped up in hockey to give a rats ass. I first started covering the Whitecaps midway through the 2011 season. The team was bad, everyone knew they were bad, and the Vancouver Canucks were good, so one hundred percent of the attention was aimed at them. If I wanted an interview with a player, lets just say I didn't have to trample any other journalists to get any scoops.
This year, media coverage gained in mass every time the 'Caps won. Plus, David Beckham making the trip to Vancouver didn't hurt in terms of exposure. The 'Caps became an important sports topic in Vancouver. A small part of me was hoping that a full season lockout would occur, simply because the media mojo from this season would've carried over into the next, except heightened in a big sports market, craving athletic competition.
For example, take a look at last NHL lockout, which occured in the 2004-05 season. That year, the Canucks reigned supreme, and the BC Lions played a distant second fiddle. However a break from hockey, coupled with an exciting Lions team led by Most Outstanding player, Casey Printers, shone a bright spotlight on the Canadian Football team, giving them a wider audience that still remains today.
For the Whitecaps, 2012-13 could've been there turn. After all, the Whitecaps are a fresh, new MLS franchise, with exciting players and lofty expectations for this season. If they went on a good run, they would've snagged a whole new fanbase- namely, frustrated hockey fans looking for release.
However, in the end, it doesn't really matter, as the NHL lockout has been resolved, and a 48 game schedule has been salvaged. It looks like the Whitecaps will have to wait until the next lockout to snag some more exposure. For now, they remain in a close third in the Vancouver sports scene.