NHL Clubs Continue Damage Control, Beef Up Staff As Season Approaches
With NHL training camps likely to open Sunday and the season projected to kickoff Jan. 19, clubs continue to offer their apologies to fans for the nearly four-month long lockout. In Buffalo, John Vogl notes while fans "were bitter," the Sabres seemed to "escape the lockout relatively unscathed." Sabres President Ted Black yesterday said, "Not once did I hear somebody say, 'I don’t care about you or the Sabres anymore.' It’s funny because sometimes you hear people say, 'I’m really mad at the owners but I love that Terry Pegula.' I think the broad-brush statements that I’m mad at the league or I’m mad at hockey ... I don’t know that anyone has that personal animosity directed at our owners." Vogl notes the Sabres "voted for the lockout in September." Black: "I don’t want anyone to think that we didn’t vote in favor of it. We did" (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/9). The AP's John Wawrow wrote Black "went out of his way to address potential hard feelings fans might have toward the Sabres." Black said, "In many ways, fans' patience can be tested to the limits and sometimes broken. And we hope that that hasn’t happened here." Black said that the Sabres' season-ticket base of "over 15,000 remained strong through the lockout." He added that only "about 80 season-tickets have been canceled since last summer." The team "still has a 3,000-person waiting list" (AP, 1/8).
AROUND THE LEAGUE: Sharks GM Doug Wilson on Monday "offered an apology on behalf of everyone involved with the NHL's embarrassing four-month shutdown." Wilson: "There's been a real impact. That's beyond unfortunate. It's sad and it's been real. All of us included in this game, and this is speaking for the game, do owe an apology that our fans had to go through this and the people that were impacted by it. It's the truth" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 1/8)....Jets Senior Dir of Corporate Communications Scott Brown said "not even a single" ticket was cancelled. Brown: "People could have cancelled. They had the option to cancel. And no one did" (WINNIPEG SUN, 1/9)....Honda Center recruiters are "starting to pull job applications to hire more than 100 new part-time workers so the arena is ready" when the Ducks return to the ice (OCREGISTER.com, 1/8)....A Nashville TENNESSEAN editorial states, "We hope the 10-year term of this agreement signals a commitment from the NHL for stable labor relationships that allow franchises and communities to build upon without wondering what the next hiccup will be" (Nashville TENNESEAN, 1/9).