The NHL really wanted tight playoff races. It wanted every game to count. But it couldn’t have dreamed of a scenario like the one it had this year, with races for a number of playoff spots not decided until the last week of the season, and in the case of the Southeast Division, the last game of the season. Read the rest of this entry »
Tonight the Flyers held their second session (the first was last Thursday) of a Season Ticket Holder special event. A fairly small group of fans (I’m not good at these estimates, but I’d be surprised if it were as many as 200), who’d reserved their spots with customer services, was welcomed to dinner (split between the Cadillac Grill and the Lexus Club) and to a series of four question and answer opportunities, with:
GM Paul Holmgren,
Director of Hockey Operations Chris Pryor and Director of Scouting Don Luce,
Customer Service Senior Director Cindy Stutman and Senior Manager Melissa Keeler, and
President Peter Luukko and Senior Vice President, Operations Shawn Kilger
Last week, the Flyers sent out season ticket packages for the 2008-09 season. There was a price increase, not that unusual, although with a salary cap and a still not quite competitive team, while the economy moves into recession, it may be a harder sell than they expect.
But the big surprise, and a very unpleasant one, was that they are moving the entire first row of fans, many of whom have had those seats since the beginning of Flyers history, to create a premium seating row with a much higher price than the lower bowl and built in (without a choice offered) concession value.
Looking at this it’s becoming more and more likely the freefalling Philadelphia Flyers will be spending April on vacation, not in the playoffs. And I have to admit, I’d rather not spend good money to see this ragtag mess get dominated in the first round.
Of course, my feelings about the play of the team aren’t being assuaged by the actions of the front office. Awaiting me in the mailbox yesterday was the season ticket brochure for 2008-09. I guess now we know why they announced the price increase so early. They want a down payment on next year by April 15. This isn’t exactly good timing. They might have better luck waiting until the bad taste is out of season ticket holders’ mouths from this disastrous second half before they ask for a deposit on next year.
Bad collapse at end of season. Check.
Moving long-time season ticket holders, some charter season ticket holders, out of the first row to cash in. Check.
Asking season ticket holders to put a deposit on seats before the playoff refunds can be processed. Check.
What a way to celebrate spring.
What a night. To get so far in a game, having 1 goal hold up. Seeing Mike Richards go down with an injury and having the building go so quiet you’d have thought the pope had died. Not long after to have little Scottie Upshall shout “Give me those Richards minutes” with a crushing body check. And then, in the last minute, with the crowd going absolutely wild supporting the effort and finally ending this damned losing….but oh no Flyers fans. You must suffer more deeply. Hockey sucks.
Today is Hockey Day in Canada, which is my favorite holiday. I love watching (thank you, NHL Center Ice) the Hockey Night in Canada crew bringing the game, and all its faces–young, old, pro, amateur, boys, and girls–to show how wonderfully rich the game makes Canada (and those of us who are hockey mad, if not Canadian).
My hockey day started with a special event courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers. As a season ticket holder, I put my name in the hat to be a so-called “Benchwarmer.” About 10 days ago I got a call from the Flyers that I’d won the lottery and would be allowed to sit on the Flyers bench during warmups for today’s Flyers game. When I mentioned I had only one seat, but would like to bring arena neighbors, they were kind enough to let me bring two.
So today I was joined by my friend Mickey Melchiondo of Ween (site warning! occasionally inappropriate for youth) and his friend George for our adventure in benchwarming. After tromping down into the bowels of the Wachovia Center, we walked down the tunnel to the bench. We were warned to stay seated on the bench, in order to avoid being high sticked by passing players.
The NHL owners and players have approved the new collective bargaining agreement among much positive spin on the new partnership between teams and players. It’s now Saturday night and the only team who’s done quite completely what the Flyers have done is the Flyers. We know who’s definitely missing (either staying in Europe–and I knew there’d be a lot of guys, particularly at the lower end of the pay scale for whom it would be much more difficult to justify leaving home–or being waived and bought out). We know the new pricing structure. And we’ve had management (executive and hockey) and players sit on the same dais, make statements, and answer questions. I have every confidence the Flyers will win this game of the cap management era because, as usual, they are thinking ahead, communicating effectively with the fans, and thinking of everything. (I’ve already emailed them that I expect we’ll all be sitting in the stands opening night in those “back where we belong” t shirts. But I’m sure they already planned to do that.) Meanwhile, there isn’t another team out there that has so much as announced their waivers. And again, I wonder if anything will really change for hockey. Because how any team can’t have been fully prepared for today, after a week of knowing exactly when it would happen, is beyond me.