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(NECN: Peter Howe, Boston) - Thursday night was supposed to be the Boston Bruins season home opener – and not just any first game, but a 718th matchup with the arch-villain Montreal Canadiens, extending an 88-year rivalry that is one of the legends of professional sports.
But with the National Hockey League lockout dragging into a 33rd day, and players and owners trading counter-offers without any progress, the game got scrapped, dealing a blow to North Station area businesses that depend heavily on traffic from Bruins games.
At The Fours, owner Peter Colton worries about what this year will look like if he has only the Celtics playing at TD Garden.
"You rely on both [teams] as your formula for doing business. You figure you have at least 80 dates, counting both teams," Colton said. "You cut that in half, that’s a big chunk" of lost business.
For McGann’s Pub bartender Brendan Joseph, the lost business is a dire threat.
Having the Bruins come back "would mean I could pay my bills on time, make sure I have the rent, and all that," Joseph said, adding that tip income from B’s fans is a huge part of his livelihood.
"Bruins fans, they’re hard-working, blue-collar guys. They’ll give you their last dollar as a tip," Joseph said. "I mean, they’re just good people."
All in all, Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Patrick Moscaritolo estimates each home Bruins game brings between $850,000 to $1 million into the city’s economy – not just bar and restaurant and pub tabs, but hotel and motel revenue as well as Canadians turn road games for their teams against the Bruins into mini-vacations in Boston, along with fans of U.S.-based teams with a strong history with the Bruins like the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings.
"There are a lot of [travel] packages that are inbound to Boston that are tied up to an actual game," Moscaritolo said.
While the city now has enough other activities going on – like this weekend’s Head of the Charles Regatta and peak autumn foliage season – that losing the Bruins games isn’t too painful, Moscaritolo’s worried if the lockout turns into an extended standoff.
"When you turn the corner into January and February, there aren’t a lot of things that you can do that can generate the business to make up for or substitute for the potential of not having NHL games," Moscaritolo said.
"We’re hoping it ends very soon," The Fours’ Colton said. "We don’t want it to drag on. It’s dragged on before. This is our fourth lockout. You survive, but it hurts business, a lot."
With videographer Nik Saragosa.