I could do the overdone “Yay, lockout’s over!!” blog, but I won’t. There’s a few reasons, but those will be revealed more as time progresses towards the start of the season. However, I’m more concerned with how the NHL handles the next few days as teams head to camps.
First, is the development of a schedule. We’ve lost enough games, and people have paid dearly for this (not just financially). The perfect way to do this, is apparently what the NHL is not doing. The simple idea is to take the current schedule, and figure out a way to squeeze in a few extra games. That’s the simple idea. Here is a radical concept, the All-Star break would be the last weekend in January, and a perfect way to slip in some games into the initial schedule. Just a thought.
The other alternative is currently what is being employed, reschedule the rest of the season. Which, I currently understand, to a degree. I know that they want to focus on the division games as well as conference games, and try to minimize inter-conference play. In order to appeal to the fans, it makes sense. It really does. The NHL needs to rebuild popularity. The only saving grace is that we didn’t lose a whole season. We came close enough though. Reigniting rivalries is a great way to get back some of the spark lost from the lockout.
Where am I going with this? My second point, and most important; The fans. The NHL can’t forget the fans like they have so many times. In making this new schedule, it needs to be fan friendly. I’m hearing a lot of 48 games in 100 days. Schedule games for weekends, so they appeal to families. I know not all games will be able to be weekends. However, the focus should be on getting home games for every team on times that benefit the majority of fans.
The best way that the NHL and it’s teams can make things right to the fans, is by reducing ticket prices. I’ve read a lot of the message boards on here, and the general consensus is that ticket prices need to drop, especially after the lockout. I can easily say that ticket prices for the Sabres have doubled in the past 7 years since the 04-05 lockout. Time for the tickets to come back down. Prices are extremely high, and a great way to get fans back, drop prices.
The cities I worry about? Cities that are struggling. They’re going to suffer. Buffalo, will probably fill seats. Provided they show some level of improvement. Over the past 2 years, it’s cause for concern (I’ll get to that in my next blog). Another idea to get people to fill seats? Have special offers. Try to draw in crowds. Give away stuff, one of those “The first 5,000 people in the arena tonight get a _____ team commemorative puck!”. It’s a small price to pay in order to not look like the NHL and NHLPA are just a batch of greedy individuals.
This is the same principle used in Rochester to refill the arena. Now, Blue Cross Arena isn’t sold out every night. However, prior to re-affiliating with the Sabres, the place was a ghost town. After the new deal, the seats weren’t filling quite yet, but all of a sudden special deals popped up. I’m still getting discounts for tickets, and all it took was going to 1 game in October 2011. Plus, they have several deals at the arena that draw in families and other individuals. Now, the arena’s got a pretty good crowd every home game, and it’s tough to get good tickets if one delays. Prices are reasonable, and the arena has great perks for fans.
Will the teams do this? I doubt it. However, it’d be the right thing to do. The NHL teams need to do this, and it gets the fans back into the arenas.
Coming up in the next few days- Sabres season preview
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