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Lockout hurts Canadian business

Canadian businesses that depend on the game are losing money because of the lockout.

Forbes magazine estimates that Canada's six teams generated $400-million in revenue in 2002-03.

Some companies are starting by laying off workers or scaling back their hours. Canadian Broadcasting Corp., the state-owned network whose Hockey Night in Canada draws more than 1-million viewers for Saturday games, laid off 50 and won't use at least 70 freelancers who contributed to its broadcasts, spokeswoman Elizabeth Lee said. CBC had planned to air 175 games this season.

Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp., which provides food, beverages and luxury-box catering to 11 NHL arenas, will scale back use of the 1,000 part-time workers at Vancouver's GM Place and Ottawa's Corel Centre.

"If the games aren't there, the hours aren't there and the opportunities to work aren't there," spokeswoman Kate Shields said.

Such reductions may contribute to a slowdown in Canadian hiring and sap consumer spending. The country added an average of 14,000 jobs a month through August, down from 22,600 a month in 2003 and a record 46,600 in 2002.

"The uncertainty surrounding the duration of the lockout does deepen the damage, just because it makes planning on everyone's behalf that much more difficult," said Doug Porter, an economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns in Toronto.

Fans also may spend less on food, drinks, parking and merchandise.

"When there's a lockout situation and your favorite player isn't on the ice, the fans won't be going out and buying their jersey," said Len Rhodes, vice president of global marketing at Reebok's Hockey Co. equipment business.

But the lockout may benefit businesses that don't rely as much on NHL games. Shaun Augustin, a sports economist at Saskatchewan's University of Regina, said fans will divert at least 90 percent of what they would have spent on hockey to other interests.

LIGHTNING: Forward Dmitry Afanasenkov is the latest player to bolt to Europe during the lockout. Afanasenkov will return to his native Russia to play for Lada Togliatti.

Afanasenkov had six goals and 10 assists in 71 regular-season games last season and a goal and two assists in 23 playoff games.

There are 174 NHL players in Europe, about 25 percent of the league's roster spots. Most of those players, including Afanasenkov, have clauses in their contracts that permit them to return to the NHL if the labor impasse ends in time to salvage a season.

The Czech league leads the way with 49 players, including Jaromir Jagr of the Rangers, followed by Sweden at 40 and Russia at 38.

MAPLE LEAFS: Forward Alexander Mogilny underwent surgery on his left hip Monday. He played in 37 games last season after surgery on the arthritic hip, finishing with eight goals and 22 assists. He has 461 goals and 546 assists in 956 career games.

Times staff writer Tom Jones contributed to this report.

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