Canadian Magazine Industry News
30 August 2012,     TORONTO
Hockey News magazine says it can stickhandle through NHL lockout
 
TC Media's highly successful title The Hockey News is poised to stickhandle its way through a possible NHL lockout between the players and owners, said the magazine's editor-in-chief Jason Kay.

The NHL player's association (NHLPA) and the league are at odds about a new collective bargaining agreement, with a Sept. 15 deadline for a lockout looming that could wipe out part of the NHL season.

While the magazine is a bit nervous about the situation — "we're always concerned with the possibility of having no NHL hockey games to cover" — this isn't the first time Kay has witnessed this situation, being with Hockey News since 1989 when it was a tabloid newspaper. During Kay's tenure, there was a partial lockout in 1994-95 and more recently in 2004-2005 that nixed the entire season.

Kay explained the magazine decreased its publishing frequency in 2004-05 while extending subscriptions. "We came up with a plan to keep readers happy," he said, noting once the lockout ended, to his pleasant surprise the subscribers came back in droves. "I guess there was a lot of pent up demand for hockey information," he said.

For now, lockout news is driving some Hockey News content. "We're obviously keeping our finger on the pulse of the labour negotiations," said Kay. "We're not expecting any deal to get done before Sept. 15, but keep in mind the season doesn't begin until Oct. 11."

In the worse case, "there's lots of other hockey lines to cover; there's other leagues, there's prospect news, it' s a wide hockey world and we'd be doing our readers a disservice if we devoted all our energies to what's going on with the negotiations," he said. "(The readers) want to know some of the details, but I think it's kind of dry and boring info for them, so we have to strike a balance."

Does Kay expect another missed season? "I think if there's a lockout, it will be relatively short," he offered. As for the magazine, "we'll survive, we've been around since 1947, we've seen lots of ups and downs. I'm not worried about surviving. It just makes it more challenging when there's no NHL games, but we'll find storylines, we always do."

On a side note, Hockey News jumped up the list in Masthead's annual Top 50 magazines report released recently.

Meanwhile, during the recent PBAA Canada in Toronto recently, Rogers' Sportsnet magazine publisher and editor-in-chief Steve Maich touched briefly on the possible botched season during his address. "A hockey lockout is not ideal (for the magazine)," he said, noting the first Sportsnet cover featured Canadian hockey superstar Sidney Crosby.

But luckily for Sportsnet, it has a slew of other sports to draw content from, evidenced by its recent Olympics special edition.
— Jeff Hayward
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