Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault is glad to be back, but along with everyone else, he also knows he has work to do winning back fans disillusioned by the four-month-long NHL lockout.
Much like his players, who practised without him again today at UBC, Vigneault says he expects the Canucks organization will do something to recognize fan loyalty once the season starts next weekend.
"I'm not allowed to get into the specifics of that, but we know that we have the best fans in the game and we're going to do everything we can to show them how much we miss them," said Vigneault on Friday.
Other NHL teams have already revealed specifics, like the Stanley Cup Champion L.A. Kings who are going to donate a million dollars to charity.
In Pittsburgh, it's free food —from burgers and nachos to dogs and soft drinks — and 50 per cent off all merchandise at the first four home games.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has already sold 200 season tickets for $200, and buying a ticket to the Nashville Predators first game gets another ticket to the second game for free. In Florida the Panthers are rolling out their 7th Man plan with tickets starting at $7.
Who gets a discounts?
SFU marketing professor Lindsay Meredith says the Canucks may want to offer a break on tickets, but they run a risk of upsetting their most loyal fans if they are not careful to whom they offer the discounts.
"The big season ticket holders have already laid out the major dollars. The corporate box seats already laid out the major dollars," he notes.
Meredith suggests discount tickets could be targeted at those who might not normally be able to see a pricey Canucks game.
"This would be devoted to a particular segment who can't afford to sit in the coliseum — families with ordinary kids who are not loaded."
Discounted or not, most fans are expecting Rogers Arena will be sold out when the Canucks hit the ice for their first game next Saturday night.