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Abel to Yzerman

Prepare To Defend Thyself Hockeytown

We’re going to be hearing about this story today, and most likely all week.  It’s not new to you, but our dirty little secret is out there now.  Wing tickets, even playoff tickets, are not exactly difficult to come by.

As a matter of fact, they’re embarrassingly available.
Behind The Jersey mentioned it a week ago, and the Detroit News caught up last night.

Dave Dye/Detroit News

That’s right, on Monday afternoon you could purchase, through the Wings’ Web site, as many as 16 tickets together—section 227A in the upper bowl, row 24 at $63 apiece—for Thursday’s Game 1 at Joe Louis Arena against the Calgary Flames.

The Wings have only themselves to blame.  They’re reached a point of such arrogance, organizationally, that they actually believe the fans owe them something rather than the other way around.  Snapshots’ and Kukla contributor George Malik has been particularly eloquent as he’s pointed to multiple examples of this the last few years.

And George will tell you there is one bigger culprit than the rest within the I team.  Wing fans, meet John Hahn.

According to a report Saturday on CBC-TV’s Hockey Night in Canada, around 2,500 Wings season-ticket holders declined to buy playoff tickets.

“I couldn’t tell you either way,” Hahn said when asked about the report. “I don’t know who they got that number from.”

As for an estimate on the number of tickets available, Hahn said, “I don’t have a specific count.”

Yeah, John. I’m sure they (CBC) made it up.  Here’s what we know about Johnny Hahn, Wing Director of Communications:  he’s living on borrowed time in that job.  His Tiger and Piston equivalents are making him look foolish, so is every other peer around the NHL.  The Wing “communications strategy” is essentially this:  “We win and we win a lot. Come out if you want.  If you don’t, we don’t care because the tickets are sold.”

Yeah, well…time to change gears Johnny Boy.  Because the playoffs are here and the fans just may not be.

Jeff Cameron, 35, whose family/company have been season-ticket holders for more than 20 years, reluctantly paid $3,312 a couple of weeks ago to secure his four upper-bowl seats for the first two rounds.

He faces impending deadlines to purchase the same seats for the Western Conference Finals ($2,528 by April 27) and the Stanley Cup Finals ($4,320 by May 11).

“They want all that money up front, and then you don’t get a refund for a month or so afterward,” Cameron said. “It’s kind of a tough pill to swallow.”

Cameron said he wishes the Wings would adopt a system similar to the Pistons for selling playoff tickets to their season-ticket holders. The Pistons charge by credit card round by round.

“It seems they’re more fan friendly than the Wings have been to their loyal customers,” Cameron said.

Hockeytown has taken on some of the traits of the organ-I-zation, unsavory characteristics.  We, the fans, are pretty comfortable in believing we’re owed this competitive product, that we should rightfully expect a strong Wing team every year.  Honestly, I’m not real proud of that.  I’ll admit I watched the Tigers’ season unfold with a little bit of jealousy last year.  It’s been a long time since we saw that kind of excitement at the Joe, the electricity that comes with unexpected success.

But why does it take a rags to riches story to generate that level of adrenaline in a fan base?  It doesn’t, but it takes a little effort from both sides, you know? Putting a jersey on a statue, hanging a pastel octopus from the rafters and coming up with an embarrassing playoff slogan won’t cut it anymore.

After this playoff run, no matter how long it lasts, the Wings are going to have to take a hard look at just how they’re marketing this team to a public in Michigan that is examining very closely how they’re spending their extra cash.  Raising playoff ticket prices just because you’ve always done it isn’t going to cut it anymore.  Not making your players accessible isn’t going to cut it anymore. 

And yes, ignoring alternative forms of media….well, Johnny, that’s not gonna cut it.

Once again, just like exactly one year ago, we’re going to see a huge disparity in buildings.  We’ll see empty rows at the Joe while the Saddledome bursts at the seams.  While Hahn’s lackeys blast the lamest music of any NHL arena during stoppages in Detroit, it won’t matter what tunes they spin in Calgary because the fans won’t let you hear anything anyway.

The playoffs are two days away, Johnny.  So, you’re off the hook for now.  But, something tells me this is coming up again.


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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com