NHL Apologizes to Fans in Newspaper Ads

Letter to run in every franchise city

Sorry is as sorry does. Case in point: The National Hockey League is placing full-page apology ads in major U.S. and Canadian newspapers in the run-up to resumption of play this weekend following a bitter lockout that's truncated the season from 82 to 48 games. Most commenters take a dim view of the "Dear Fans" letter, decrying higher ticket prices, the perceived greed/arrogance of both labor and management, and the income lost by stadium, bar, restaurant and hotel workers because of the dispute. I suppose the paid-media mea culpa was to be expected, along with the generally negative reaction. It's probably not the least sincere professional-sports apology ever. (Lance Armstrong may end up owning that crown for some time—if he can stoop to actually saying the words "I'm sorry.") Still, some of the NHL's wording seems odd. The second paragraph starts, "We are committed to earning back your trust and support." Placing a period after the first five words would've summed up the position of owners and players quite nicely. And there's this line: "So let's drop the puck and marvel at all the remarkable things the players do with it." I'm sure disgruntled and disgusted fans could supply plenty of creative and painful suggestions. Read the full letter below:

Dear fans:

As your teams prepare for the opening face-off of the 2012-13 season, we thank you for your patience and we apologize to you for the time we missed. From today forward, we will do everything we can to make this season worth the wait.

We are committed to earning back your trust and support the same way it's earned on the ice: with hard work and unwavering dedication. Your cheers drive us forward, and we're committed to making you proud to be a fan – by delivering a game with the action, the skill and the intensity you deserve.

Like you, we've missed NHL hockey. We've missed the clutch goals, the big hits, the electrifying saves. We've missed the flash of red light, the sound of the siren and the way the building shakes when the home team scores.

It's time to focus on the best athletes in the world, on the enduring greatness of the game and – above all – on the connection that binds fans, players and families everywhere. NHL hockey is the best in the world. The future is incredibly bright. So let's drop the puck and marvel at all the remarkable things the players do with it.

With respect and appreciation,

The National Hockey League.

P.S. We hope you'll get in on the action. And again, thank you.

And here's the great Nike hockey ad that Wieden + Kennedy in New York aired a few weeks ago, before the lockout ended.