Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
Stop Sharpening Your Pitchforks and Don't Light the Torches Quite Yet.
It appears the Tampa Bay Lighting are giving 200 season ticket holders tickets for $200. The Dallas Stars are offering free admission to kids under 12 in Jan and Feb. Don't count on it here. Before you light torches and sharpen your pitchforks to head to Jeremy's house in the South End (wait...he doesn't live there he lives in Buffalo!) settle down!
There is NO attendance problem in Boston. This is an original six city in the hotbed of hockey for the US. It's quite simple. You cannot give away what you don't have. There is a 3-5 year waiting list. Yeah, that's right 3-5 years! Now it might have shrunk a little bit now, but honestly if you plunked down $100 for a deposit - you aren't that concerned about the lockout of 12-13 (though perhaps you you should circle 21-22 on your calendar)
Let me bring you back to a simpler time - it was the return of the NHL after a cancelled season in 04/05. Before the lockout - the STH base was at an all time low. The Bruins showed glimmers of being good, but not really. They had recently traded their Captain Ray Bourque (by his request) to the eventual 2001 Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche. Nobody was going to games. The last of the die hard fans had be so disillusioned they had given up. Jason Allison was our Captain, so was Joe Thornton. College Students were getting in half priced - they were drinking so much they would puke in their seats and simply move somewhere else. We were overrun by opposing fans (Think Camden Yards during a Red Sox series) It wasn't fun my friends. It wasn't fun. Then in 2003-04 season the #1 seeded Bruins blew a 3-1 lead to the hated Montreal Canadiens in the first round. These were dark times.
Then as if to snuff out the last of the remaining fans - the great lockout of 2004-05 happened. There was nobody left. I felt like a twinkie after a nuclear bomb.
After the NHL got their salary cap - it was time to go on a "I'm sorry" tour. In Boston - we saw the effects of this.
The Bruins started with a party at The Fours to watch to see where Sid would go. Five People showed up - FIVE! Four of them were from my section (we just wanted to see each other) After that - there was a press conference where it was explained that kids would get in free until Thanksgiving with an adult ticket.
After that Charlie & company came to The Fours to join us - all five of us along with the Bruins staffers that were there to give us swag and tell us to bring our friends. I think our drinks were paid for. I laid into Charlie and asked him how he planned to take care of the local businesses that have no say in a labor dispute. He gave me a non answer and he left.
The free kids ticket was literally a no brainer for the Bruins - attendance is bad and it was really bad before the holidays. They would see a bump after the holidays (gift tickets) and they we would see a bump end of season for Shirt of the Back and a possible playoff run. Our season tickets arrived with at least 16 vouchers for free tickets before the middle of January. We were surprised to turn them in to receive premium level seating. Then you saw the uptick in college nights, military nights etc.
Ultimately the Bruins used the salary cap to their advantage and sold tickets the best way possible - by putting together a team that is competitive and likable. Credit to them, they formed a Season Ticket Advisory Board - they reached out to their long time fans and some newer ones too.
I'll tell you what, I wouldn't trade discounted tickets and an empty building for what we have in the Garden now. Now we as fans impact the game. I wouldn't give up the opportunity to stand tall and proud screaming my guts out after Nathan Horton scored the 1 goal against Tampa. I NEVER want to go back there again: Empty Seats, people who don't care going in for half price and throwing up in my section. Those days are over and I hope they never return.
Now the team is competitive and the most likable team in town (my opinion) at the right time. This causes a spike in ticket prices and a 3-5 year waiting list. They cannot give what they do not have.
If you feel that you are owed free tickets because there was a lockout - I'm sorry that you will continued to be disappointed.
That said, the Bruins (and other NHL teams in this situation) should be creative and find creative ways to "make whole" the fanbase.
I'd love to see free Center Ice - but due to the complexity of licensing that's not likely to happen.
What i've heard from people (and I'm included in this group) is how this lockout cycle affects the local businesses. I would love to see the Bruins host viewing parties at local bars and restaurants. This way you help the businesses affected and the hockey fan community is fostered.
The key here will be creativity, not pandering. It'll be interested to see what the Bruins do. They have some very smart and creative people on staff and I'm hoping they get the opportunity to shine coming out of this lockout.
Let's hope they do.