In case you weren’t aware, the NHL locket is pretty much over. The Board of Governors has approved the new deal, and we’re just waiting on the Players Association to ratify it (which should come Sunday). Over the past few days I’ve read about some team owners apologizing to the fans, such as with the Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes (more on this in a bit). Now we have Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, doing the same
(NJ.com) “To the players who were very clear they wanted to be on the ice and not negotiating labor contracts, to our partners who support the league financially and personally, and most importantly to our fans, who love and have missed NHL hockey, I’m sorry,” Bettman said in a press conference at a midtown hotel.
“I know that an explanation or an apology will not erase the hard feelings that have built up over the past few months, but I owe you an apology nevertheless.”
Blah blah blah, just like they did after the last work stoppage. I’ve heard rumors that the NHL and owners plan on running a “thank you” program as the season starts. Which is just like last time. I do not want to hear it. I don’t want to see it. Last time I didn’t even get flowers, this time I want diamonds. Supposedly, ticket prices were somewhat reduced last year. Here in Raleigh, they were. And then they jacked up the price of parking.
When it comes to the NHL, and particularly my NJ Devils, I am not a fan, I’m a fanatic. Yes, I will eventually come back. But, I think it would be very incumbent on the NHL and the owners to treat the fans well. No patronizing commercials and platitudes. Some, including me, have suggested that the NHL give their Center Ice programming away free. I’d say that if you were a subscriber last year, give Center Ice for free, or at least half of the price it would be for half a season. Better, why not half price and give away a practice jersey for the team of choice?
At the stadiums, more give away programs, discounted merchandise, contests to win signed and/or game worn apparel. Pucks. Sticks. Autographs. Take a bit off the top of tickets. Why not drop the price of all tickets 15-20% for the first 20 games?
The owners and players need to show that they really do care. There were no rule changes, so there isn’t anything super exciting coming down the pike like last time.
Otherwise, I’m really not excited. Usually as the season approaches I am psyched. Not so much now. And, listen, I’m a guy who has a ton of hockey paraphernalia. Lots of hats, shirts, and sweatshirts. I have a Canes and Devils jersey. I have 2 Devils jackets. Two watches. Pucks. Signed posters. Banners. And other stuff. A good chunk ended up around the living room the deeper the Devils went into the Playoffs last year. Hook me up, NHL!
More: BTW, I love how all the NHL prognosticators are beating up on the Devils. Every year it seems to be the same thing. They’re old. They’re boring. They won’t win. And almost every year the Devils make the Playoffs. Remember, the Devils have missed the Playoffs twice since 1989. They’ve won 3 Cups, and made it to the Stanley Cup finals 5 times. They are in the top 3 for winning teams since 1990 (Red Wings #1, other team is Penguins). Fans of other hockey teams call them “boring”. Yeah, I guess they’d say that when the Devs just keep winning and beating those teams, especially with a great defense and a hall of fame bound goalie. Haters will be haters.