SBD/January 11, 2013/Franchises

Some NHL Clubs To Offer Fans Food, Merchandise Discounts In Wake Of Lockout

The NHL wants to "make it up to its fans following the corrosive 113-day lockout, but that's not to say they can truly 'make whole' what has been fractured," according to John MacKinnon of the EDMONTON JOURNAL, who adds that teams will "reach out, just don't expect them to overreach." Oilers President & CEO Patrick LaForge said, "Each club is planning something. It's up to them (each club). If they want to do something, great. They live in their own market, they deal with their own fans." He added, "Every club I talked to -- and we haven't made our plans firm yet -- is (looking at) some specials on food and beverage for the opening night, maybe opening couple of games. Some merchandise features, maybe some autographed jersey giveaways, that kind of stuff." LaForge: "The reaction I got from our fans was, our first wish, after all this is, One, a long-term deal. Two, that the Oilers are competitive, now and forever." He continued, "If you gave them everything, it would be not enough and if you gave them a little bit, it's insulting. I think we've got to be careful to be looking forward through the windshield not backward through the rear-view mirror" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 1/11).

DEALS & DISCOUNTS: In Pittsburgh, Josh Yohe noted the Penguins are "being active in the pursuit of winning back fans." Among the first teams to "issue an apology regarding the lockout, the Penguins went a step further" Thursday by announcing that a "number of price rollbacks on food and merchandise, along with free admission to fans during training camp, soon will be available." The Penguins next week will allow fans "to attend training camp, free of charge," and during the team's first four home games, all merchandise at Consol Energy Center and South Side Works PensGear locations "will be sold at 50 percent off." In addition, the team will "host contests on its website during the next week" (TRIBLIVE.com, 1/10)....In Buffalo, Mike Harrington noted the Sabres announced "a Fan Appreciation Sale at the Sabres Store that will see all items discounted 50 percent throughout training camp and the first home game." Harrington: "This is a nice move by the Sabres. I hope they do more" (BUFFALONEWS.com, 1/10).

PLAYER APOLOGIES: Capitals C Brooks Laich said, "I’m honestly really embarrassed by the lockout, like personally embarrassed. I feel terrible about it. I feel like we just punched our sport in the face. And I feel bad for everybody that was affected by it, directly or indirectly." He added, "I hope they haven’t lost the interest and lost the excitement for how fun the game really is, and how exciting the game is, how much fun it is to come to the Verizon Center and how loud that building gets" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/11). Capitals D Karl Alzner said, "It’s kind of tough. I don’t really know what exactly would be good enough. Some fans are going to be more hard-headed than others. That’s understandable. They deserve to be upset about all that. But it’s hard. As players all we can really do is remind why they enjoy hockey as much as they do" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/11). Jets D Ron Hainsey said, "The public perception of it is going to be negative, because we took the game four months past where the season should have been started. It's up to us, the players, to go out there and put the best season we can on for the fans" (CP, 1/10).

SENATORS HIRING: In Ottawa, Doug Hempstead notes the Senators are "recalling laid-off staff and hiring new employees." Monday saw 35 "laid-off staffers return to work, while those who were not laid off during the lockout go back to a full five-day work week, from the 80% they were working." Nearly half the laid-off staff "managed to find other employment, so the Senators are interviewing for 25 new hires." Senators VP/Marketing Jeff Kyle: "The people who were still here certainly knew it was our job to be ready" (OTTAWA SUN, 1/11).
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