No Hard Feelings: Sabres Draw More Than 10,000 Fans For Open Scrimmage
The Sabres announced that 10,175 fans came to First Niagara Center last night for their "first live glimpse of the team they were deprived of during the nearly four-month NHL lockout," according to Dale Anderson of the BUFFALO NEWS. An usher said, "I don't think they were expecting this many people. It's fantastic." There was "unrestricted access to the premium seats on the 200 level" for the scrimmage, although concession stands there "were not open." The uppermost seats in the 300 level "were closed." Anderson notes throughout the arena, video screens proclaimed "Welcome Back, Sabres Fans." Lines were "10-deep formed in front of the first-level concession stands, where discounts were ... in force." Everything in the Sabres store also is "half price from now through Saturday." The "intensity of fan enthusiasm surprised everyone." When availability opened Sunday for season ticket and mini-pack holders, the Sabres "set a single-day sales record of 31,213." Sabres President Ted Black said the sales volume "blew us away." Anderson notes the Sabres already have sold out four home games, and "fewer than 18,000 seats are available in the 300 level" for the other 20 games combined (BUFFALO NEWS, 1/15). In Buffalo, John Vogl noted though the Sabres "have some uncertainty as to how fans will respond post-lockout, it's no surprise they had such great one-day success" with the ticket sales Sunday. All mini-packs "sold prior to the lockout were voided," and the ticket-sale window for fans who "kept their money with the Sabres during the work stoppage (which was nearly everyone) opened Sunday." Each mini-pack "consists of at least four games and as many as 24, so every ticket holder purchased multiple games." Because mini-pack tickets went on sale yesterday to the general public, prior ticket-holders "had only one day to buy to secure the best seats" (BUFFALONEWS.com, 1/14).
CANADIENS SEEING SELLOUTS: In Montreal, Brenda Branswell reported the Canadiens' season opener Saturday against the Maple Leafs "is sold out and there are only a few tickets left for Tuesday’s game at the Bell Centre" against the Panthers. Tickets for the two games "went on sale Sunday after the lockout officially ended." Individual game tickets for the Canadiens' 22 other home games "go on sale this coming Sunday." The Canadiens yesterday announced details of their "plan to let people attend an intra-squad game at the Bell Centre for free on Thursday as well as the Habs and Leafs morning skates on Saturday, part of a bid to make amends to fans for the lockout." Seating is "first-come, first served." The team is "promising everyone who attends a free hot dog, chips and a soft drink" (Montreal GAZETTE, 1/14).