PUCKS TO DROP, BANNERS TO FLY -- NHL KICKS OFF '95-95 SEASON
The NHL season "opens with eight games tonight and the
greatest fear of all involved -- that the 3 1/2-month lockout
killed the astounding momentum the league built last season --
may not materialize," writes Len Hochberg in the WASHINGTON POST.
"For the first time heading into an NHL season," Hochberg adds,
"the big question isn't 'Who will win the Cup?' but "Does anybody
care?' Early indications are, lost of people do" (WASHINGTON
POST, 1/20). In Chicago, Bernie Lincicome writes that the
shortened season is a reason to be optimistic: "Hockey really
ought to be played between thaws" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/20).
HOCKEY ON TV: Fox Sports execs met with the NHL yesterday
to discuss a "revision of their schedule," according to Rob
Longley of the TORONTO SUN. "Word is the network wants a rebate
on its $31 million because of the cancellation of the All-Star
Game" (TORONTO SUN, 1/20).
Some team-by-team updates on Opening Day:
ANAHEIM: The Mighty Ducks will return to The Pond on
January 23 with an "Opening Night Entertainment Extravaganza"
featuring a pre-game show with their mascot, dance team and a
laser show. Every fan entering the building will also be part of
the team's season-long "Loyal Fan Promotion" (Mighty Ducks).
DALLAS: The Stars haven't sold out their January 30 home
opener, "but they expect to." The team sold 2,000 tickets on
Monday, the day after a full page ad appeared in the DALLAS
MORNING NEWS and TV and radio spots hit the airwaves. The team's
previous one-day ticket sales record was around 1,500. Stars
President Jim Lites: "I don't know what I was expecting when
(the lockout) ended, but I wasn't expecting the phones to be
ringing as much as they have" (Terry Egan, DALLAS MORNING NEWS,
NEW YORK: The Rangers expect to have captain Mark Messier
in the lineup when the team opens its season and raises the '93-
94 Stanley Cup banner at Madison Square Garden tonight. Messier:
"We're so close now that there's going to be an agreement" (Mark
Everson, N.Y. POST, 1/20).
OTTAWA: The Senators will open the season with top draft
choice Radek Bonk in the fold. Bonk signed a 5-year deal worth
$6.125M last night in Las Vegas. Roy MacGregor writes the
signing of Bonk and the addition of veterans goalie Don Beaupre
"will go a long way toward proving this team is finally getting
serious about building something worth watching" (OTTAWA CITIZEN,
VANCOUVER: Canucks VP Glen Ringdal said there will be at
least 2,000 seats available for tonight's game. The team's
season-ticket base has fallen to 8,800 from 9,300 in the wake of
the lockout, Ringdal said. Ringdal: "Some [former season-ticket
holders] are coming back. We've been in touch with all of them
individually to see what we can do" (Iain MacIntyre, VANCOUVER
WASHINGTON: The Capitals have selected Abramson Ehrlich
Manes, the Washington, DC, marketing communications firm, to
create a multi-media advertising campaign for the season. The
theme for the season is being characterized as "sprint to the
playoffs" (Abrahmson Ehrlich Manes).