As the lockout came to its merciful end late Saturday night, the focus was back on hockey, back on training camps and upcoming regular-season schedules.
And for many teams front offices, its also about mending fences with fans who were frustrated, disillusioned and downright angry with four NHL-free months. On Sunday, Blackhawks president John McDonough said the team was looking at ways to help bridge that gap again.
McDonough said the team is developing some fan initiatives, and that they will be unveiled later this week. McDonough joined general manager Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville at a press conference today, opening day of the Blackhawks brief training camp.
There are some fan initiatives that will be introduced later in the week, some things were tying up right now. (Executive vice president Jay Blunk) and his group have been working on it for weeks and we think its a very good plan, said McDonough, who didnt divulge details past that.
Several other NHL teams have already installed fan incentives. The Pittsburgh Penguins are offering free select concession items and half off all merchandise at their first four home games. Bruins fans can get free vouchers for various concession, as well as 25 percent off team merchandise 30 percent for season ticket-holders during January home games.
McDonough said the waiting list for season tickets rose by 250. He added that the Blackhawks werent overwhelmed by fan anger during the lockout. But, for those who are upset, were going to do whatever we can to win them back.
The Blackhawks fan base likely didnt take too big of a hit, season ticket wait-list boost aside. But there are hurt feelings nonetheless from the lockout, and the team hopes to ease some of that angst this week.
Its important to us to make sure that we give our fan base a real purpose. Its based on a commitment of consistent excellent and doing everything we can to put a winning team on the ice. But there are certainly other things well be doing later this week to announce a further fan commitment.