As we inch closer to FINALLY having 2015-16 Hurricanes hockey, Canes fans received two big signs that the end of the summer is finally near. This week, season ticket holders started receiving their ticket packages, and the team unveiled its #Redvolution campaign heading into the season.
Two things bubbled up from the arrival of the ticket books. First, the tickets are pretty sharp especially with the heavy nod to the 10-year anniversary of the 2006 Stanley Cup win. Second is a bit of controversy surrounding the incredibly minor roles of long-time franchise front men Eric Staal and Cam Ward. For those of us who have been receiving these ticket books for the past 10 years, this was a striking and noticeable change.
On the one hand, we could very well be approaching a changing of the guard. It is no secret that both players are scheduled to become free agents at the end of this season if they do not re-sign before then. And it is definitely a possibility that one or both move on.
I wrote about both of these big stories earlier this summer (links to original articles):
But I think that reading some kind of signal into the ticket book is overdone. My best guess is that it was simply a safe, smart business decision. If you figure that the graphics were created sometime between June and early August at the latest, the Eric Staal and Cam Ward contract situations were unresolved at the time. This at least created the potential that one or both could have been traded before the start of the 2015-16 season. Whether that potential was 10% or 40%, whether it was just a marketing person assessing it or there was actually input from higher management, there was at least a possibility that one or both could have been traded by now.
Can you imagine how bad it would have been if Ward and/or Staal was traded in August and then tickets showed up in September with their pictures all over them? It would have been a PR disaster. So quite simply, I think someone made the common sense decision to avoid the potential for a PR disaster and at the same time promote the next wave of Canes stars, whether or not Eric Staal and Cam Ward also continue in this role.
So while it is different and it could later become an early sign, I am really skeptical that there is much to read into the tickets. And I also think it is a sign that we are running out of stuff to debate and desperately need training camp to start already.
I traded email with Hurricanes Vice President of Marketing Doug Warf during the day after I wrote this. I asked about schedule for visual design for the season tickets per my guesses in the original blog above.
Doug responded by saying, “The tickets were designed by our in-house design team in mid-to-late June and were sent to the printer around the Independence Day holiday.”
That does not address the exact decision process for who did/did not go on the tickets. (I did not ask for that level of detail.) But the early timing of the ticket design deadline fits with my original blog. At that early juncture in the summer in late June/early July, Eric Staal and Cam Ward conversations were just starting per comments made by Ron Francis.