Sunday, November 11, 2007

The NHL Is Run By Monkeys

In honor of NaBloPoMO, I'll be attempting to post something every day in November. If you're not checking in every day, make sure you're catching all the posts!

Someone - I won't name any names - told me that yesterday's post was weird and not really fitting for a hockey blog. I thought it was very entertaining - He's dancing on skates, people! Let's see Sidney Crosby do that! - but I'll try to get back a little more on-point tonight so someone can stop complaining. You try thinking of something to write every day. It's not that easy.

I don't really have it in me to whine about the Sabres right now, especially when they do seem to be trying pretty hard to win. Maxim Afinogenov, this is your official Top Shelf warning however. I am feeling a little complain-y at the moment though so let's complain about the Ice Bowl, shall we? Oh, my bad - the APM Energy NHL 2008 Winter Classic. For those of you not involved, let me tell you this: Everything about the Ice Bowl has sucked so far. This thing was so poorly handled that it could only be an NHL event. Here are a few of my complaints:

1. I cannot believe Gary Bettman and Larry Quinn are actually saying, "Gee, we had no idea interest would be so high!" Are you for real? Get your heads out of your asses and look around you. Fans in Buffalo were going nuts about rumors of this game long before anything official was announced. You put the game - a really cool, once in a lifetime kind of event - in Buffalo where the last two seasons have sold out and the TV ratings are the best in the league and you're surprised people want to go? This bears repeating: Only the NHL could be that clueless about fan interest.

2. The league announced the game one day and put tickets on sale the next morning. That didn't give fans very much time to make plans. We spent a few chaotic hours trading phone calls and emails with family and friends, trying to figure out who really wanted to go, how much money people wanted to spend, what our first and second choices for seats were, who was going to buy the tickets, whether we were going to call, get online, or go to the stadium or arena, and who exactly could take the day off to do that. It was a mess.

3. Along those same lines, letters went out to season ticket and mini-pack holders the day of the announcement. I don't know if season ticket holders got the same letter mini-packer holders got but ours was a collection of confusing contradictions, yet another problem. It basically said, "Congratulaions, we've reserved you seats! Well, maybe! But yes, we did! We'll see! I dunno, send us your credit card number and we'll get back to you!" Mark and I both read it over and over and neither one of us really knew what to make of it. Should we still attempt to buy tickets during the general public sale? Or were we in? Who knew? Because we didn't get the letter until after we were home from work, the ticketing office was closed which meant we had no chance to call and clarify anything because the office wouldn't be open again until tickets went on sale the next morning.

4. There was initially no cap on how many tickets one person could buy. I know the league came out and said, "Hey, settle down, no order was placed for more than 15 tickets," but how many orders like that were placed? Because 15 adds up pretty fast when there are thousands of people trying to get in to the system. Having no limit is just so asinine that again, it could only be the NHL in charge.

5. I'll preface this by saying that Mark and I have a mini-pack so I'm speaking with a strong bias. I have a problem with the fact that season ticket holders got their regular tickets and then got extra tickets before mini-pack holders got anything (which means that we got nothing because everything was all doled out by then). I know I'm not putting as much money into the team as season ticket holders, but our mini-pack wasn't cheap and we didn't get the discount that season ticket holders get. We paid a whopping two dollars less than face value for all of our games. Season ticket holders shouldn't have expected anything more than their regular number of seats and they shouldn't have gotten any more until as many different people as possible were taken care of.

6. I've heard mini-pack holders will have the option of buying a pair of the $10 obstructed seats. I've heard we don't have to enter the lottery - if we want them, they're ours. I've heard the "someone must be under 16" rule won't apply to us. But I don't know any of this for sure because no one from the Sabres has bothered to send us a letter or email filling us in on what's going on. If you're going to stiff us on tickets, the least you could do is go out of your way to tell us how we can get tickets.

Not really complaints but a few more observations:

- I think it's lovely that the Sabres are encouraging families to come to the game but insisting that someone in all the obstructed seat groups be under 16 is stupid. If I'm a parent, I'm not sure I'm bundling up my kid for a long, cold day and expecting them to sit through a game that they can't even see. It would've been much more impressive if the Sabres had deemed another section - one where everyone can see the game - as a family zone.

- Same goes for all the tickets they're giving away to charities. It's a nice gesture, but I would be much more impressed if they were giving away seats that aren't obstructed. A lot of my kids at work are involved in the Compeer program and any one of them would enjoy going to a professional sporting event, something most of them have never done... but they'd probably enjoy it more if they could - all together now - see the game.

- For the record, I know Larry Quinn said "obstructed view" is overstating things and that some of the seats aren't really that bad. But I also know that Larry Quinn is very good at talking out of his ass.

- Speaking of Larry Quinn: "This white jersey is something we may never wear again," Quinn said. He hopes the Sabres faithful in the stands will follow suit. "I think it would be great for our team to skate out there and see 50,000 people wearing their classic white Sabres jerseys — above their ski parkas."

Translation: Buy another jersey! We love your money!


amy said...

Another complaint about the Ice Bowl: at Laux Sporting Goods, you can buy your powder blue retro Penguins Sidney Crosby t-shirt. However, there are no Sabres Ice Bowl retro t-shirts to be had, and Laux isn't sure if they're getting any.

Meg said...

Larry Quinn is so obnoxious (there's somthing that hasn't been said a million times). Also, almost immediately after reading this I had to do a google search for "'Lord of Seduction and Quinn" (not an uncommon sort of search when it comes to my job). The urge to retch was extremely strong.

Heather B. said...

Amy, that seems pretty stupid. I noticed the store has a Vanek Winter Classic t-shirt but I guess there's no reason you'd be able to buy one in Buffalo... sheesh. (Or maybe the NHL knew Buffalo is a little cranky with Vanek right now.)

Meg, I'll defend Darcy to the death but Larry... yeah, he's on his own. I feel a little sorry for him at times and then I hear him talk and I remember, oh, yeah, he does seem like kind of a know-it-all jerk, doesn't he?

RJ said...

Heather, I would call the ticket office for sure. I didn't get an email either, but gave them a call to get things straightened out. I think mini packs only have until the 14th to claim those two tickets.

The whole thing was a train wreck, but that's what happens when the NHL take the reigns. Edmonton handled their outdoor game themselves and it turned out great.

Also, it's "AMP", not APM. It's understandable, FSN did the same thing with their graphic during a Pens game...