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Cold Hard Rants

Cold Hard Rants: The Sad Reality of Southern Hockey



The Montreal Canadiens. The most storied hockey franchise of all time. Arguably the most storied sports franchise of all time in professional team sports. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The Stanley Cup Champions, once removed. One of the more high profile American based NHL teams. Pronger and Burke and Teemu and Niedermayer. Division rivals, Tampa Bay and Florida. The New Jersey Devils backstopped by the best goalie of all time, Martin Brodeur (kiss off, Patrick Roy).  The Washington Capitals. The “it” team during last year’s playoffs. Some guy named Ovechkin plays for them. Ever heard of him? Wanted to see him? Wanted to see him for free? Wanted to see all the aforementioned teams and players for free too? The Carolina Hurricanes, 2006 Stanley Cup Champions have your meal ticket.

Ten days ago while sitting with my girlfriend at a Durham Bulls game in Durham, North Carolina, I heard a peculiar announcement over the loudspeaker. I couldn’t quite make it out. I heard Carolina Hurricanes tickets and what I thought was the words free tickets. Figuring that I mis-heard I paid it little attention. On our way out, a table sat, unoccupied, and with a collection of pink papers on it. Obliging my contractually mandated inquisitive nature and my strong affinity for bright coloured pieces of paper, I sauntered over to find, unmanned and unmonitored I remind you, a table filled with “Buy one ticket, get one ticket free coupons” for Carolina Hurricanes hockey games. Cool, I thought. Offering free tickets for an exhibition game to build your market. Smart marketing strategy. So, I grabbed one, and boy am I glad I did, so I can share with you this, the final proof we needed that the U.S. Southern Expansion is an unmitigated disaster.

Let’s break this coupon down:

1)      Buy one, get one free: OK, no biggie, buy one get one free.

What I figure: Limit one per person.

In actuality: Limit 8 tickets per person.

The kicker: No one monitoring the table where these are being distributed. An individual could have picked up hundreds of these coupons. 

2)      Receive a free ticket with the purchase of a ticket of equal or greater value.

What I figure: Restricted sections, hard to redeem, tickets sell out quick as a result.

In actuality: The majority of the arena applies to this promo. Only exceptions are the “Champion’s Club”, “V.I.P. Ledge”, and “Upper Goal Zone”.

The kicker: The Hurricane’s have a section called the V.I.P. Ledge. Shouldn’t all 45 people who attend Hurricanes games be V.I.P?

3)      The following games apply to this promotion:

What I figure: Exhibition games. Games played at the same time as another event occurring, creating a conflict that would negatively impact ticket sales for the Hurricanes.

In actuality: Regular season games versus Washington, Montreal (TWICE!), Anaheim, Florida, New Jersey, and Tampa Bay

The kicker: These aren’t games against your Blue Jackets, Coyotes and Kings. These are games against the marquee franchises in the NHL. The Montreal Canadiens. Not only are they THE team to see in the NHL, but these teams had a fierce playoff series not so long ago. 

I’m not a good enough writer to accurately describe the emotions I felt when I saw these tickets being given away. I live in a market where people would gladly fist fight for free tickets if we only had the chance to see NHL games in our market. (The one exhibition game played per year in Winnipeg doesn’t count.) Here I am standing with my mouth agape watching these tickets be given away. Here’s the ultimate kicker:

No one. No one. No one was taking the coupons.

NHL Southern Expansion. Born 1995. Dead 2008. Never fully emerged from an amorphous state. Credibility of NHL “tall-foreheads” died alongside.

For Illegal Curve, I am Drew Mindell.