Goodwill. It’s that semi-magical force that asks people to accept the better angels of their nature. Where we as fans get together and through the force of goodwill elevate our players to success on the ice. The Bruins organization burned a lot of that will during last year’s lockout. You know, that magical time where Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs was leading the charge for the owners to grab every last cent out of the players as possible, and was willing to stick it to the players and the fans alike to get it. After all the percentages were counted, we ended up losing half of the 2012-13 season.
Jeremy Jacobs spoke of goodwill after all the smoke cleared. We saw the smiling Jacobs handing out vouchers to the fans like he was Willy Wonka giving the Golden Ticket to Charlie. “To be candid,” offered Jacobs after the lockout (in the closest thing we’d see to a mea culpa delivered by the Bruins owner). “We experienced some years here where we didn’t really have all that much goodwill. It took a long time to build up that equity, if you will, of goodwill. I feel it’s still there in this market, and I’ve actually experienced it firsthand.”
Well, we now know he’s willing to throw it all away, and do it quickly. We’ve seen the grief from the Bruins season ticket holders. Ticket price increases are starting around the twenty percent mark for some tickets (some fans have said it’s as low as seventeen percent). Others are feeling the burn for as much as a third of their value. (For those of us who usually buy our Bruins tickets from a third party, we’ll be feeling that trickle down from the season ticket holders as well.)
Bruins President Cam Neely was on the radio today, defending Mr. Jacobs decision. “Obviously, it is a big increase. It’s something, they haven’t seen an increase like this. We had numerous discussions before we landed on what we were going to do,” offered Neely. (Ouch, now we’re seeing a whole new meaning for the term ‘Bam-Bam Cam’. “We feel like we’ve put a competitive team on the ice, we’ve won a Cup, we’ve gone to the Finals,” he said. “The cap is going up next year by close to $7 million, and we’re going to be able to spend to the cap. We feel it was justified at this time.”
As of last season, the Bruins had the fifth highest average ticket price. Factoring in the adjustments of other NHL teams, the Bruins rank is likely to increase. While Neely offered no apologies to the season ticket holders (The waiting list for season tickets is somewhere in the five thousand range.), he still wanted to convey the love the Bruins organization has for its fan base. (You’re a legend in my eyes Mr. Neely. That being said, you’ve got a hell of a way of expressing your affection to us.) “We certainly appreciate the support that our fans have given us over the last number of years. They’re a big part of success, so we want to try to educate them and listen to them and hear what they have to say.”
“We feel that coming to the Garden and the type of team that we put on the ice, the type of success that we’ve had, we feel that coming to an event like this and watching our team play justifies what we’re looking at as far as ticket prices go. We know it’s a big increase, and we certainly understand that it’s a big increase, but we feel like this is what we need to do to stay competitive.”
Season tickets have almost doubled in price since Julien became head coach. There is paying for quality, and there is charging through the nose just to have the pleasure of their company. The average cost of living increase isn’t even close to the increases the Bruins home office will inflict on their most loyal fans.
Granted, we’re not the fan base of the Toronto Maple Leafs. They pay nearly twice as much for a ticket and haven’t see much of the post season in the last decade. We are also not the fan base of the Buffalo Sabres, their ticket prices aren’t much less than ours, and you’ve seen what they are paying for. The Bruins have really found their identity since taking on Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien. They went from a team that seemed to be the Canadiens doormat in the post season to contenders and finally champions. Sure, we understand that the privilege of seeing the Black and Gold will cost a little more. I just think the B’s front office is asking for too much and burning the goodwill it will take a decade (or an ownership change) to get back.