In Pittsburgh, the Penguins are offering their fans 50 per cent discounts on team merchandise and a collection of concession vouchers. In Dallas, the Stars have talked about offering kids under 12 a free ticket to an NHL game through January and perhaps February. In Nashville, there are reports Predators’ fans can buy one ticket for the home opener and get a discounted ticket to another game.
Those teams, and others, are feeling the need to celebrate what has officially become the NHL’s season of sorrowful repentance, a nearly religious experience that has everyone, including commissioner Gary Bettman, running about saying, “I’m sorry and I mean it. Please, come back.”
But what of other NHL teams? What have they done to win back the faithful beyond issuing heartfelt apologies for a most crippling lockout?
Toronto, we know, has already conducted a human sacrifice by firing its former general manager Brian Burke. It was an unsightly incident that was welcomed by some, decried by others, yet drew ravenous media coverage. From a sheer publicity standpoint, Burke’s firing was a major event and far more compelling than anything the Maple Leafs managed on the ice. But was there an announcement of $10 off ticket coupons for fans or even get a second appetizer free (must be of equal price) at Ed's Warehouse?
No, nothing of the sort. Just Burke, charbroiled and done.
In Pittsburgh, fans will receive 50 per cent off all merchandise at the team’s first four games along with free food items. Plus, the team said there would be contests and giveaways during the season with prizes such as a trip for two to see the team play the Rangers in New York.
For their part, the Tampa Bay Lightning have offered 200 season-ticket packages (24 games) for $200 on a first come, first served basis. The Lightning also had a Loyalty Reward program during the lockout that offered incentives for fans who kept their season tickets, which the majority did.
There has been no official word yet on what Canadian teams are offering, but we have a few suggestions:
In Winnipeg, if your car won’t start this winter, you should be able to get in touch with Jets’ forward Evander Kane, who will come to your house and boost the battery of your rusting 19-year-old Nissan. Just call Kane on his wad of cash cell phone, the one he was photographed with in Las Vegas.
In Edmonton, it would be nice if Oilers’ owner Daryl Katz said, “Aw, the heck with it. I’ll just pay for a new arena myself.” Nice, but not likely.
In Calgary, larger beer cups at the same price would work. Just don’t offer a free trip for two to see the team play in Edmonton. That won’t fly.
As for Vancouver, how about free parking anywhere within a 10-km radius of Rogers Arena plus a personally autographed Garth Butcher jersey?
The possibilities are limitless, and they had better be good than sorry.