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Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price autographs souveniers at the end of season media availability  Thursday, April 28, 2011  in Brossard, Que. (The Canadian Press)

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price autographs souveniers at the end of season media availability  Thursday, April 28, 2011  in Brossard, Que.

(The Canadian Press)

Charities feel pinch of NHL lockout Add to ...

The people and businesses whose incomes are tied to the NHL are not the only innocent bystanders broadsided by the lockout – charities across Canada are feeling the bite as well.

For example, Darryl Patterson, chairman of the Metro Toronto Rotary Auction, says the lockout will cause a drop of at least $10,000 from the $96,000 raised at last year’s event by five Toronto area Rotary Clubs.

The auction, which goes Nov. 23 and 24 and is broadcast live on Rogers TV, normally gets 20 per cent of its revenue from the sale of Toronto Maple Leafs tickets plus team sweaters and sticks signed by players. With the NHL shut down, there are no tickets available and few signed sweaters and sticks, a situation faced by many other charitable events.

“I’m sure that’s happening across the board. We’re just one example,” Patterson said. “The main thing, of course, is the Leaf tickets. They always go for more than face-value. For example, a pair of tickets worth $500 will go for $700 or $800.

“The same thing happened in the last lockout [2004-05] as well.”

In last year’s auction, 26 pairs of tickets with an average face-value of $210 per pair were sold. The demand for them is high, Patterson said, because they are donated by season-ticket holders who give them for hard-to-get games like those involving the Montreal Canadiens.

Usually, the auction gets more than 10 autographed Leaf sweaters from donors connected to the players. This year, Patterson is expecting only about three and all are last season’s model.

Thanks to the lockout, the third sweaters the Leafs planned to wear at the now-cancelled Winter Classic against the Detroit Red Wings, which are modelled on the team’s uniforms from the 1931-32 season when Maple Leaf Gardens opened, are not available. They would have fetched a handsome return.

It is not clear why there are only a handful of signed sweaters, since the Rotary auction does not receive them directly from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the Leafs’ owner, which is not allowed contact with players due to the lockout. While there were rumours the NHL Players’ Association instructed its members not to sign team items during the lockout, a union spokesman said that is not the case. Players are free to sign anything they wish.

Patterson said they leaned on their donors a little more this year to make up for the loss of the hockey items. The value of the items they have for this year’s auction is about $147,000, down $7,000 from last year, but that, too, has repercussions.

“We’re working hard to get other stuff to make up for that loss,” Patterson said. “But we as a club suffer a bit of donation fatigue, where we have to go back to our contacts and ask for [more] items.

“It doesn’t help to ask for more and it hurts other events when they are asked to donate to them, like our spring auction.”

It is a situation faced in offices across the country. “I know the feeling,” said Janette Bellerby, The Globe and Mail’s project manager, marketing services, who runs an annual silent auction and garage sale that benefits the United Way. She will not have the usual three pairs of Leafs tickets, which means about $1,200 less income for the auction.

“Oh yes, everybody fights over the Leaf tickets because they’re really good seats,” Bellerby said.

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