It’s days like today I’m glad I’m an AHL hockey fan, because as a fan of the American League, I don’t have to take part in any of the bribes that NHL teams are doing to try and win over their fans again. I used to be an NHL partial season ticket holder. For two years, I drove over five hours round trip for many, many games, but then I discovered that my local team, the Charlotte Checkers, was a much better value, and much more worthy of my support.
Don’t get me wrong, I hated to see most of the players from Charlotte go that were called up by the Hurricanes from training camp, but all deserved it, no doubt about it. The coming weeks are going to be interesting to watch as AHL squads start from scratch with completely different rosters than the ones they started the season with. I’m anxious to see what new Checker Luke Pither will bring to the Charlotte. Dan Ellis, I will miss you the most, but I’m glad you are back in the NHL where you deserve to be.
But this morning, my mind wasn’t on the AHL. As I was reading a few news outlets and Twitter this morning about what various NHL teams are doing to bribe fans into coming back is kind of disgusting.
- Free parking today in Columbus for training camp. (It’s a Sunday, and like Charlotte, free parking is EASY to find on a Sunday if you try hard enough!)
- Nashville had a “celebration” yesterday with 50 cent hot dogs at the unofficial team skate. (As a vegetarian, yuck!)
- The Hurricanes are offering 50% off merchandise this week, and will have sales people on hand to sell you tickets during the first day of training camp.
- The Bruins are giving away free concessions vouchers for of a limited menu. (Totally a fair trade… free nachos definitely makes it ok that the NHL season was cut in half!)
- The Senators have stated 50% off merchandise is season long, free parking opening night AND kids 14 and under are free for the first 10 games.
So… it’s nice, and all, that the teams are “giving” things away, but merchandise that was bought to sell over the course of an 82-game season and has been sitting in cardboard boxes for months, and discounted hotdogs seems pretty pathetic.
I really wouldn’t want anything free from a team or the league. What I want, is a heartfelt apology for dragging something out that should never have taken this long. I want an explanation as to why some of the greatest showcases of the NHL were ripped from us this year, from the Winter Classic to the All-Star Game. I want the league and teams to say “We’re sorry, we treated our fans like crap, and even 50 cent hot dogs and a pretty video on NHL.com won’t make up for it.” I want to see Gary Bettman groveling and begging for me to come back. Apologize to the fans, and explain to us what took so long for us to have hockey back.
I know it won’t happen, but it would be nice, right? A REAL apology is what the fans deserve, not the canned comments that were made earlier this week. My love can not be bought with free nachos, discount hot dogs, or 50% off a made in China t-shirt that at $32, was overpriced to begin with.
So Mr. Bettman, offer the fans a real apology and a real explanation of why you locked the players out for a third time in a decade, and then, maybe, we can talk. Until then, I’m going to continue to support my favorite AHL team, the Charlotte Checkers.
A proud fan of the American Hockey League