Local lockout repercussions

Restaurants feel pain, Frontenacs gain from NHL fallout

Pearse McCann, a manager at the Brass Pub, says people miss regularly scheduled hockey games, like Hockey Night in Canada.
Pearse McCann, a manager at the Brass Pub, says people miss regularly scheduled hockey games, like Hockey Night in Canada.
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Fallout from the NHL lockout has trickled its way into smaller cities.

Fans in Kingston, just as fans in Ottawa and Toronto, have been reacting to the lack of NHL hockey.

Pearse McCann, a manager at The Brass Pub, has observed the difference first-hand.

“I think that consistently scheduled hockey games such as Saturday night, Hockey Night in Canada … people have grown so accustomed to having that on their TVs or having it for a reason to go and have wings or dinner or watch the game,” McCann said. “People miss it.”

But it’s not only fans who are left disappointed.

The lack of hockey on TV has definitely taken a hit on business at local sports pubs.

While Corey Tassone, the Dining Room Manager at Fanatics Sports Lounge, said business is still good, the lockout’s effects haven’t gone unnoticed.

“[It used to be] pandemonium on a Tuesday night — now we’re just busy,” Tassone said. “We’re still kind of the same, but it’s not the crazy kind of hectic atmosphere that you sometimes have when it’s Toronto against Ottawa or Toronto against Montreal.”

Alternatively, some businesses are seeing revenues flourish.

Justin Chenier, the executive director of business operations for the Kingston Frontenacs, said this season has been one of the best years the franchise has had in years.

According to Chenier, the Frontenacs have seen a rise in attendance and merchandise sales this year over previous ones.

He emphasizes that this doesn’t solely have to do with the lockout.

“We’re simply a better team winning more games [this year],” Chenier said. “And, frankly, we’ve had a better marketing strategy this year than we’ve ever had.”

Chenier credits this, along with a focus on building brand loyalty from fans and acquiring hockey talent for the 20 per cent increase in attendance.

According to him, the effects of the lockout aren’t as palpable because Kingston isn’t an NHL town.

“We don’t have people who are upset that they can’t go to a Leafs or Sens game, and are instead turning their attention to the Frontenacs,” Chenier said. “We’ve done a lot of work building that fan base and loyalty.” While the Frontenacs have thrived, he acknowledges that many OHL teams have likely received more attention this year.

“I think most OHL clubs would probably admit that the lack of NHL has seen more focus on the OHL or at least the idea that there should be more focus on the OHL,” Chenier said.

This is partially due to the migration of NHL talent to OHL teams.

“A lot of other clubs have players who were drafted last year or the year before by NHL clubs,” Chenier said. “They wouldn’t be playing in the OHL this year had there been an NHL season.”

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