SBD/Issue 20/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NHL Finally Gets Sell Out In Finland Despite High Ticket Costs

Ticket Prices For Hurricanes-Wild Game Were
More Than Double What Finnish Team Gets

Friday's Wild-Hurricanes NHL Premiere series game in Helsinki "finally sold out this week," but Thursday's game between the two teams "attracted 12,355 to the 13,349-seat Hartwall Areena," according to Bruce Brothers of the ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS. Hannu Jortikka, who coaches the Finnish league Jokerit team that plays at the arena, said that with the top tickets costing "more than $140 apiece and the cheapest going for about $70, prices were more than double what Jokerit gets for its game." He added the prices were approaching those "for a Lady Gaga concert." Local sports journalist Heikki Miettinen called the ticket prices "very expensive." But NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly Thursday said that "despite the occasional game that doesn't sell out, he anticipates that the league will play more games in Europe next season as it continues to try 'to grow our brand, grow our presence'" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 10/8). Meanwhile, ESPN's "PTI" graded the league's Opening Day. ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "It's an opening day in Helsinki, Finland, on a Thursday at noon between the great rivalry of the Carolina Hurricanes and the Minnesota Wild. So that's bad. But you know what, it's an international league. There are so many more Finns than there are people from North Carolina that I'm going to go B-." ESPN's Michael Wilbon: "I'm going to go F, and this is easy for me. The defending champions in this league are the Chicago Blackhawks … and they should open the season. The NFL gets its right" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/7). ESPN's Linda Cohn on her Twitter feed wrote, "Why does the NHL feel the need to open up it's season out of North america! And why was it on at Noon et and why Car. vs Minn. Really?”

ALMOST A DONE DEAL: Versus’ Darren Dreger reported it “seems a foregone conclusion” that Don Fehr will be the next NHLPA Exec Dir, and he is “jumping in with both feet.” Fehr is “on the fall tour right now,” trying to visit "as many NHL teams as possible.” Dreger: “He's meeting with players. He's feeling them out. He's talking to them about what their concerns are with the existing collective bargaining agreement. So a decision ultimately in a full membership vote is expected to take place at the end of October or very early November. I have yet to find a player or an individual that does not believe that Fehr will be the next boss for the Players Association." Meanwhile, Dreger noted the NHL “will fight hard for a maximum length on contracts” as part of the league’s next CBA ("Hockey Central Pregame," Versus, 10/7).

DON'T GIVE UP: ESPN.com's Scott Burnside wrote the Penguins' new Consol Energy Center is a "gleaming reminder that sometimes sticking it out is the best way." It is a "reminder that no matter how attractive it might be to say 'forget it' and move on, sometimes it's better to take the path of most resistance." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "You don't run out because there are issues. You try and address those issues. I believed in the city and the fans in the city. We believed in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a classic example of why you don't run out." Burnside wrote, "Whatever criticism is leveled at Bettman -- and there's a lot of it, both fair and unfair -- he got this one right. Can you imagine for a minute an NHL without the Pittsburgh Penguins?" Consol Energy Center "isn't just a gift to the fans of the Penguins but also a reminder to fans everywhere that their loyalty is not taken for granted." For a league that "struggles on some levels for relevancy in the United States, that is powerful currency" (ESPN.com, 10/7).

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