Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 07/25/05 at 10:08 AM ET
NHL teams are taking steps to try to get the fans back. At noon today, the Rangers will give the first 1,000 fans at the Madison Square Garden box office two free tickets. The Islanders will make 30,000 tickets - 3,000 for each of the first 10 games - available for $10 each. Bernie Nicholls, who retired in 1999 after 18 seasons, said the promotions are not nearly enough. "All you've ever heard is players and owners say it's all about the fans," Nicholls said. "If it's all about fans, drop the ticket prices. Let's have tickets for $20 or $40. Let a family of four come to a game for $100 instead of $250. "It's not all about the fans because the ticket prices aren't coming down. They're going to have a couple of promotional things and give away a couple thousand tickets. That's not right. Let's do it for the year." Nicholls, 44, spent half of his career with the Los Angeles Kings. He finished with 475 goals and 754 assists. Oates retired after the 2004 season. He had 341 goals and 1,079 assists in a 20-year career. Oates, 43, said people have to understand the NHL is a business and that work stoppages and labor disputes are bound to happen. The recovery process may be slow, he warned. "The game - just like baseball did - will go through a transition period and gradually get [fans] back," Oates said. "I don't think it will be overnight. I think it will take a while. They're going to have to put a good product on the ice and build up some loyalties."
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