Some of the efforts by Vancouver Canucks management to woo back fans seem to be working, even for those turned off by the National Hockey League’s 113-day player lockout.
Shoppers described the scene at the Canucks Team Store as being better than a Boxing Day sale.
The Canucks say offering incentives like half-priced jerseys for a few games is a way of thanking fans for their commitment. And it's a gesture that created lineups at the store Saturday.
"It started at 10:00 o'clock. We had a lineup around the corner," Matthew Oxenham of the Canucks Team Store, adjoining Rogers Arena, later on Saturday. "This is the first time it’s died down a little bit so we can catch our breath."
Some fans have said they will tune out the next few games in the hope of sending a message that they're not happy about the lockout.
"Some people are just holding a grudge against the Canucks, and it’s not the Canucks fault that the lockout happened," Oxenham said.
The Canucks are taking other steps to bring back fans, inviting them to scrimmages and giving away tickets.
Some of the players believe that, as the season finally starts, the fans are as ready for action as they are – 273 days after they played their last professional game.
"They've seen a lot of us during the course of the lockout. There's been a lot of guys who stayed here to train, and been active in the community. I don't see too many hard feelings," said defenceman Kevin Bieksa.
Teammate Andrew Ebbet is getting the same impression.
"I felt a bit of buzz yesterday. We went out for dinner and felt more buzz in the air. I think once the games get going they'll be rockin' as usual."
The Canucks host the Anaheim Ducks to kick off the season's shortened, 48-game schedule, Saturday night.